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I^arliarl) College l^ibtarg. 



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Fbllow in Bnolish, Univbbsitt of Mississippi 



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ft-^"/, ^r 

J. S. Gushing & Company, 
Boston. U.S.A. 

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In this paper, written as a thesis for procuring the degree of 
Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Mississippi, my 
object is to collect, and as far as possible to explain, those dialect 
words and phrases that are peculiar to, or very common in, the 
State of Mississippi. 

Many difficulties present themselves at the outset. No pre- 
vious study of this special subject has, within the knowledge of the 
writer, been made, so that completeness is almost a matter of im- 
possibility. The writer must depend upon the conversation of 
those with whom he is thrown, for whatever specimens of dialect 
he secures, and consequently must fall far short of obtaining all, 
or even a majority, of the dialectical peculiarities of his section. 

The derivation of nearly every colloquial expression is doubtful, 
and must be, for the most part, simply conjectural. In many 
instances, words have been so warped from their original forms 
and meanings, that even a gueiss at their origin is hazardous ; 
but, on the other hand, a few readily disclose to the careful 
observer the various changes that occurred before they reached 
their present form in colloquial speech. 

In the discussion that follows, I have omitted those words and 
expressions that have been introduced into Mississippi by foreign 
immigrants, for the reason that the same peculiarities have been 
made known by them to every other portion of the United 
States. And while it doubtless would be interesting to discuss 
such additions to our speech, still they could in nowise be said to 
pertain especially to Mississippi. 

I liave thought it best to leave out also the majority of the 
provincialisms that are noted as common by Bartlett or other lex- 
icographers. As it is the object of this paper to give evidence of 


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original research, it seems to me useless to repeat accounts already 
given by the dictionary-makers. 

I have endeavored to exclude purely slang phrases, such as, 
"to get on his ear," "I should smile," "on it," "in it," etc. 
Such phrases as are ccnisciously used by the speaker as slang, I 
do not regard as a part of the dialect ot the State, and hence 
desire to give them no place in this paper. However, it is very 
difficult to always determine just what expressions are slang and 
what are not, so that I raa^^ have erred both in excluding some 
and in including others. 

In treating the dialect of the State, I have tried to distinguish 
three constituent elements, — the cultivated white, the illiterate 
white, and the negro dialects. Of course, all three have many 
words in common, still they are in many respects essentially dis- 
tinct ; and, in treating each word separately, I have taken especial 
care to indicate by what class of people it is used. Where no 
class is named, it is to be understood that the word is used by all. 

The phonetic system employed is that of the American Dialect 
Society : all words enclosed in parentheses are spelled according 
to that system. 

In preparing this treatise, I have consulted Bartlett's "Dic- 
tionary of Americanisms," Earle's "Philology of the English 
Tongue," Cook's "Sievers' Grammar of Old English," Sweet's 
"History of English Sounds," and the standard dictionaries of 
the language. 

It now remains only for me to express my thanks to the writers 
in " Dialect Notes," from whom I have ventured to take a great 
deal of assistance in the way of words treated and comparisons 
suggested. , I also owe and hereby acknowledge gratitude to sev- 
eral friends in the State who have been so kind as to furnish me 
with lists of words in their neighborhoods. And most of all do 
I thank my highly esteemed and learned teacher, Rev. William 
Rice Sims, Ph.D., who has so kindly assisted me by his valuable 
suggestions and scholarly advice, and Professor H. Schmidt- 
Wartenberg, Ph.D., Professor of Modern Languages in this 
University, who has assisted me in my work by useful notes 
and revision. 

H. A. S. 
University op Mississippi. 
March 1, 1893. 

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In discussing the vowel changes, I shall pay attention to the 
sounds rather than to the individual letters ; since, in the Eng- 
lish language, so many different vowels represent the same sound, 
and so many sounds are represented by one vowel, that in some 
instances it is impossible to determine just which letter should 
be written. 

In both the vowel and consonant changes there are many 
isolated examples that cannot possibly be brought under any gen- 
eral rule, — changes that may have been developed through forms 
now unhappily lost, or that may have originated from analogy 
with some other word, not readily ascertained. Some of these 
changes seem to be mere caprices of the language; and being 
unable to explain them, I do not, in the majority of instances, 
attempt it. 

However, before proceeding to the detailed discussion of these 
several changes, I feel that I ought to call attention to the fact 
that the dialect of the illiterate whites of the extreme backwoods 
districts possesses a characteristic that cannot be adequately rep- 
resented by written characters, — a kind of drawling nasal twang. 
This can be fully understood and appreciated only by hearing this 
class of people talk. 

The enclosing of a word or letter in parentheses indicates that 
it is to be spelled or pronounced according to the phonetic system 
of the American Dialect Society. 


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§ 1. a) When final, this a is pronounced by negroes and 
illiterate whites as short i; as, (Lindi) for Linda, (Mairi) for 
Mira, (Minisoti) for Minnesota, (s6fi) for sofa, (sSdi) for soda, — 
an example of the weakening of the strong vowels that has 
already played so prominent a part in the history of our 

h) This vowel (a), when coming after the palatals c and g, \b 
changed into ia or ya ; as, gyarden for garden, cyar for car, cyar- 
pet for carpet, gyardeen tor guardian. This usage is most common 
among the illiterate, but is prevalent also among the immigrants 
from Virginia and South Carolina, whatever may be their educa- 

This is akin to the usual effect of the palatals on this vowel in 
Anglo-Saxon : " the palatal semi-vowel j, when beginning a word, 
unites with the vowels a, ce, o, to form gea and geo, . . . The 
palatals g, c, and sc have a similar effect." — Sievers, pp. 38, 39 ; 
§§ 74, 75. 

The change of a into ya under these circumstances is also a 
cockney pronunciation, and was very common in England about 
a century ago, according to the best orthoepists. 

c) The same (a) sound becomes (se) in the words: (psepi) 
for papa, (paes-l) for parcel, (paetridS) for partridge, (stseas) for 
stars, (sea) for are. All of these belong to the dialects of the 
negroes and the illiterate whites. By them the (ae) sound is given 
also to the vowels in launch, haunch, saunter, haunt, aunt, and 
nearly all similar words. This last list of words is not correctly 
pronounced by any class of Mississippians, as the vast majority 
of the educated people make the vowel sound as (o.) 

Among the educated classes palm, calm, psalm, qualm, and sim- 
ilar words are correctly pronounced, but the illiterate of both 
colors pronounce the a as (ae). This change occurs in almost 
every instance before either a liquid or a nasal, but I do not 
think that these consonants could be said to produce the change. 

d) In the words scrofulo, cupalo, and fistulo for scrofula, cupola, 
^x\d fistula, the uneducated make (6) of this (a). 


§ 2. a) This sound of a becomes (a) in (bal) for barrel, (ma) 
for mare, (ra) for rare, (praa) for prayer, (ba) for hare, (da) for 

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dare. All of these words are used both by negroes and illiterate 
whites. It seems that this change occurs only before r, as I 
can find no instance of it under other circumstances. R in these 
words is not a guttural, but a vocal continuant (Evans). This 
vocal continuant has been entirely dropped from the pronuncia- 
tion, and this disappearance has doubtless caused the change from 
(se) to (a). 

b) (ae) becomes (o) in (tjomp) for champ, (stomp) for stamp, 
(tromp) for tramp; but this pronunciation is not universal 
before mp, as is evinced by the fact that the regular (a?) 
soimd is given in camp, hamper, lamp, damp, sample. The pro- 
nunciation of (ae) as (o) belongs more especially to the negro 
dialect, but it is sometimes used by the whites of both classes. 

c) The (ae) sound is changed to (e) in (kerid3) for carriage, 
(hed) for had, (redij) for radish, (ken) for can, — all of which 
belong to the negro dialect. I think that no general rule can be 
formulated for this change, as, in words very similar, (ae) has its 
proper sound. In the words (kerid3) for carriage, (keri) for 
carry, (skeas) for scarce, (skea) for scare, (tjea) for chair, (kea) 
for care, the (ae) is changed to (e), probably through the influ- 
ence of the preceding palatal or the following r. All of these 
last-named words belong to the negro or the illiterate white 

d) (ae) is changed to (§) in (skgs) for scarce, to (o) in wheel- 
borrow for wheelbarrow, and stob for stab, to (-b) in ruther for 
rather. It appears somewhat strange that negroes should say 
(stob) for stab, and should pronounce slab, scrap, trap, grab cor- 

A (rf). 

§ 3. The sound of a denoted by (k) as in past, fast, is com- 
monly pronounced by all classes as (ae) : (aesk) for ask, (paes) 
for pass, (faest) for fast, (laest) for last, (graes) for grass, (caef) 
for calf (haef) for half (paej>) for pa;th. A large number of ex- 
amples of this pronunciation could be given, as it is almost 
universal in such words. A few educated people — but a very 
few — give this vowel the correct pronunciation. The words 
ending in If as half calf are probably correctly pronounced more 
often than the others. 

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A {Sy 

§ 4. a) This sounds as (e) in (pleg) for plague, (nekid) for 
naked, (mek) for make. The last word belongs to the negro dia- 
lect ; the first two are used by all classes. 

b) The (ae) sound appears in (nsep) for nape, (slaekd) for 
slaked, (msee) for mayor, (waeri) for wary, — the first two words 
being used by all classes, the last two by the illiterate. 

c) The (i) sound is heard in (ri3in3) for raisins, (stIp-1) for 

Au {o), 

§ 5. a) This sound appears as (se) in the two negro words 
(sses) for sauce, and (saesi) for saucy. The negroes say (k§z) for 
because, (aud^Jas) for audax^ious, (Dob) for daub and (mud- 
doba) for mud-dauber are very common pronunciations among 
all classes. 

E (i). 

§ 6. a) This sound is pronounced as (§) in (blSt) for bleat. 
The short (i) sound is given to this long e in (slik) for sleek, (tit) 
for teat, (nigro and nigg) for negro. 

b) Illiterate whites say (rsea) for rear, and (quaea) for queer. 
The short e sound is given this long e in a large group of words, 
in which r follows the vowel, even by well-educated people. Peer, 
fear, here, seer, steer, gear, are all pronounced as if the vowel 
were short (e). 


§ 7. a) The confusion of this sound with (i) is very common 
indeed among the illiterate classes, and is heard quite often 
among the educated : (simineri) for seminary, (simitevi) for 
cemetery, (sit) for set^ (pin) for pen, (agin) for a^ain, (tjist) 
for chest, (git) for get, etc. This list of words could be prolonged 
almost indefinitely, for whenever short e occurs in the middle of 
a word, short i is likely to be substituted for it. 

b) In the negro dialect (e) is represented by (S) in (hM) for 
head, (M3) for edge. 

c) (e) sometimes becomes (i) in the dialect of the illiterate 
classes : as, (in) for end, (wipan) fov weapon. 

d) (ae) appears for (e) in (raes-l) for wrestle, (seri) for e'erji, 
(fraej) for thresh, (taerifai) for terrify, (yaes) for yes, (taeripin) 
for terrapin, (togaeCa) for together, (taeri-a) for terrier. These 

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words, of course, belong to the dialects of the uneducated. For 
the change from (e) to (se) in those words in which r pre- 
cedes the vowel, see Sweet, p. 218, § 790. The r coming after the 
vowel seems to exercise somewhat the same influence. I cannot 
account for the change in the other words. 

e) Both negroes and illiterate whites sometimes use (b) in the 
place of (e) ; as, (t-erib-l) for terrible, (tres-l) for trestle, 

f) In (sont) for sent, (sot) for set, negroes use (o) in the 
place of (e). T think, however, that this is owing rather to anal- 
ogy with some other preterites than to vowel change. 

E (g). 

§ 8. a) As by this character (e) not only a sound of e, but a 
sound of i, o, and u, is represented, I shall put under this head 
such words as have the same vowel sound that appears in curl, 
word, sir, etc. 

In the negro dialect, the short u sound (-b) is very frequently 
used as an equivalent for this; as, (wek) for work, (d-et) for dirt, 
(f-BSt) for first, (m-Bsi) for mercy, (p-Bsli) for purslane, (sk-Bjan) 
for excursion, (wbs) for worse, (s-Btnli) for certainly. As may be 
seen from the phonetic spelling, the r of all of these words is 
dropped, which causes the change from (e) to (-b). 

h) Negroes and illiterate whites break the (e) into (ye) be- 
fore r in the words (pyeat) for pert, (hyead) for heard, and the r 
is dropped. 

c) By the illiterate of both colors (a) is substituted for (e) 
in (kansaand) for concerned, (sa) for sir, (saatj) for search, 
(saamint) for sermon, (saatn) for certain, (saavut) for servant, 
(saav) for serve, (vaamint) for vermin, (yaab) for herb, (laan) 
for learn. It is readily seen that this change occurs only when the 
vowel precedes" r. This change from (e) to (a) before r is a very 
well-known phonetic change : cf. Sweet, p. 218, § 789 ; p. 264, 

d) That development of parasite-vowels called by Sweet 
" parasiting " is exemplified by the pronunciation that educated 
people give to such words as earth, birth, dearth, worth. The 
r is hardly sounded at all, and the vowel sound is (e), followed 
by a vanishing (i) sound : cf. Sweet, p. 40, § 159. 

§ 9. The sound of e in there sometimes becomes in the dialects 
of the flower classes (a); as, (da) for there, (hwa) for where, 
(t5a) for there. 

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I (ai). 

§ 10. a) Long i (ai) is nearly always correctly pronounced, 
and seems to follow no rule in those changes that it does undergo. 
There is no group of related or similar words in which it suffers 
any regular change. In a few isolated examples there is incor- 
rect pronunciation of this i, but nearly all of these are old words 
and owe their present forms to etymological spelling or assimila- 
tive change. Long i (ai) is changed to (i) in (bl!d3d) for 
obliged, to (§) in (tJSni) for china, to (au) in (mauti) and (maut) 
for mighty and might. All of these pronunciations indicated by 
the phonetic spelling have been, at some time in the past, current 
in England. 

I (0. 

§ 11. a) Short i (i) is very frequently pronounced by all 
classes of people as short (e) : as, (pen) for pin, (set) for sit, 
(ben) for been, (led) for lid, (melt) for milt, (merik-1) ior miracle, 
(rikal-ikj-n) for recollection, (sperit) for spirit, (yist-idi) for yes- 

I suppose that this confusion of (i) with (e) is largely due to 
laziness or negligence, as surely the great majority of people 
must possess ears delicate enough to readily distinguish between 
the two sounds whenever their attention is called to the differ- 

b) Negroes and uneducated whites sometimes give (i) the 
sound of (i) in (dij) for dish, (fij) for fish, (spirit) for spirit, 
(itji) for itch. 

c) All classes frequently give (i) the sound of (^) in such 
words as sing, ring, thing, fling, sting. This sound is heard only 
before ng, and only in words that have the accent on the ing, and 
is due to nasalization. 

d) Short (i) appears as (ae) in (maerik-l) for miracle, as (u) 
in (hwup) for whip, (wuj) for wish, as (-b) in (s-erap) for sirup, as 
(ai) in (haim) for hymn, and in (ind3ain) for engine. 


§ 12. a) Long o (6) nearly always is correctly pronounced in 
Mississippi ; (drev) for drove is the only instance that I know 
of, when (^) is substituted for (6), and I think that this is not 
due so much to vowel change as to a confusion with the preterites 

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of some other verbs. The noun drove is never given this pronun- 
ciation. The vulgar pronunciation of home and stone, so common 
in New England, is never heard in Mississippi. In Mississippi 
long is never given the sound of (o). 


§ 13. a) One of the most characteristic marks of the South- 
ern pronunciation is the substitution of (o) for short o (o) ; as, 
(dog) for dog, (hog) for hog, (log) for log, (fog) iorfog, (soq) for 
song, (lor)) for long, (toq) for tong, (tom) for torn, (romp) for 
7'omp, (ofis) for office, (cofi) for coffee, (of) for off, (cost) for cost, 
(lost) for lost, (tost) for tost, (tos) for toss, (los) for loss, (mos) 
for moss, (God) for Ood. The o intermediate between (o) and 
(o), by Webster marked 6, is generally pronounced (o) ; as, 
(rimos) for remorse, (cos) for corse, (sodid) for sordid. On the 
other hand, sop, lop, sot, not, lot, rod, hod, nod, throb, rob, sob, stock, 
rock, shock, sorrow, morrow, borrow, fox, box, are correctly pro- 

As God is the only word ending in a dental, and having (o) 
instead of (o), and as this pronunciation of God is rare, we may 
conclude that short o preserves its proper sound before the 
dentals. Before the voiceless mutes p, t, and c, the o is properly 
sounded. These are the only general rules that can be formu- 

b) In the negro dialect short (o) is sometimes changed into 
(ae), as (draep) for drop, (kraep) for crop, (sseft) for soft. 
However, most other words similar to these are correctly pro- 

c) In (get) for got and (hwet) for what, we have (-b) for 
(o). These two words are pronounced ih this way by the illit- 
erate and by a large number of the educated. 

Oi (oi). 

§ 14. a) The negroes and illiterate whites give (oi) the 
sound of (ai) in a large number of words. This pronunciation 
is probably more common among the negroes than among the 
illiterate whites : (bail) for boil, (spail) for spoil, (d3aist) for 
joist, (sail) for soil, (haist) for hoist, (d3ain) for join, (paint) 
for point, (paizn) for poison; but coin, voice, moist, noise, are 
correctly pronounced. 

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§ 15. a) This u is pronounced by negroes as ('b) in (h'ef) for 
hoof, (t-e) for to, 

b) (6) takes the place of (u) in (Joli) for surely, (J6) for 
sttre, (inj-dens) for insurance, in the negro dialect. 

U in}. 
§ 16. a) This sound of u is frequently changed to (tj) ; as, 
(s-Bt) for soot, (t-ek) for took, (pet) for put, (J-Bk) for shook^ in 
the dialects of the uneducated. 

U (w). 

§ 17. a) U ("b) has the sound of (o) in (hoqri) for hungry^ 
and in (totj) for touch, in the negro dialect. 

h) Short i is seen in (djist) for just, (kiva) for cover, (sitj) 
for such — all negro dialect. 

c) Short e appears in (d3es) for ju^t, (herik-n) for hurricane, 
(setj) for such, (tetj) for touch, (Jet) for shut. All of these 
words belong either to the negro or the illiterate white dialect. 

d) In the negro words (haerik-n) for hurricane, (sup-1) for 
supple, (ae) and (u) appear for (-b). 

U iyu). 
§ 18. This u has the (6) sound in the two negro words (kyo) 
for cure, and (pyo) for pure. 

§ 19. I shall first consider the half-vowels w and y, A dis- 
cussion of these two letters must, however, be necessarily short, 
as they occur out of their proper places in very few dialect 
words. Y takes the place of aspirate h in (ye) for here and 
(yaab) for herb, T is prefixed in (yef ) for earth, W is inserted 
after g in (gwain) for going, after t in (twel) for till, and is 
dropped in (uman) for woman. These pronunciations of all of 
these words belong to the negro dialect. 

§ 20. a) H is prefixed to a few words ; as, (hit) for it, (hai 
spai) for / spy, (h^nt) for ainH — contraction of are not, Haint 
is possibly a contraction of have not. The uneducated so confuse 

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the auxiliaries be and have that it is impossible to tell, from the 
use of the word haint whether it is a contraction of have not 
or of are not, H is omitted in (-Bmb-l) for humble, (wai) for 
why. H is sometimes replaced by y, as noted in the paragraph 

b) S becomes sh in (likarij) for licorice^ (slaij) for slice, and 
j in (med3e) for measure, S is prefixed in (smid3it) for midget, 
(skwentj) for quench. The s in squench, the Century Dictionary 
says, is an intensive prefix, and I suppose the s in smidget has 
the same force. All of these words belong to the negro and 
illiterate white dialects. 

c) Spii*ant z, c, and ch have no changes not recorded elsewhere. 


§ 21. a) L becomes r in (bres) for bless, (braek) for black, 
both of which forms occur only in the negro dialect. In no other 
words that I know, however, does this change take place. 

L is dropped in (hep) for help, (h6p) for holp, and (won at) 
for walnut, in the dialects of the uneducated classes. In all other 
words that I know of, the I is fully sounded. 

b) R is so seldom pronounced in the middle or at the end of 
words, by any class of people, that its pronunciation in either 
of those positions forms an exception. It is quite a peculiar cir- 
cumstance that a class of very illiterate whites pronounce r much 
more distinctly than any other, people in Mississippi. This pro- 
nunciation of r forms, perhaps, the most distinguishing feature 
of the real " po white trash " dialect as contrasted with the negro 
dialect. But it is in order to say that no class pronounces r at all 
uniformly. Words in which r is omitted are so numerous that it 
is impossible to give a complete list of them, so I shall mention 
only a few : (best) for burst, (cbs) for curse, (f-Bm) for from, 
(])6t) for throat, (fo) for throw, (mo) for more, (csee) for care, 
(t58ea) for there, etc. R, since rarely sounded, is the occasion of 
more of the vowel-changes of the Mississippi dialect than any 
other letter. Cf. §§ 2, a; 2, c; 6, 6; 8, a; 8, 6; 8, c; 8, d; 18. 
According to Earle, r is frequently dropped from words in the 
south of England, and especially by the cockneys. 

§ 22. a) M is vocalized in (el-m) for elm and (hel-m) for 
helm, by negroes. All classes vocalize the m in spa^m, chasm. 

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schism, and in those words ending in -ism, M assimilates v to 
itself in (gimi) for give me, and t in (lemi) for let me, in the 
dialects of the uneducated. 

b) N is added to (autn) for out, (ofn) for off, (lesn) for 
unless — all of which belong to the dialects of the lower classes. 
N seems to exercise a curious attraction and at the same time 
repulsion for dentals. If a word end in n -\- d, the d is nearly 
always dropped in the dialects of the negroes and the illiterate 
whites ; but if the word end in n without a following t, t is nearly 
always added: (graun) for ground, (haen) for hand, (semant) 
for sermon, (vaamint) for vermin. 

§ 23. a) P has no very noteworthy changes from its regular 
use. It is left out in (wos nes) for wasp^est In (s-empn) for 
something, p is an excrescent consonant, as in empty from A.-S. 
emetig, emtig, in Lat. sumpsi from sumo. 

b) B, in the negro dialect, frequently replaces v; as, (beri) 
for very, (hebn) for heaven, (hseb) for have, (n§bl) for navel, 
(ebri) for every, (deb-1) for devil. 

c) F is dropped or assimilated to t in (ata and seta) for after, 
and replaces v in (haef ta) for have to. In the negro dialect a 
still further change occurs with reference to (haef ta), the / 
being dropped or assimilated as in (aeta), the expression becomes 

d) V, as noted above, is frequently replaced by b. V is often 
substituted for final t5 in the negro dialect; as, (smuv) for 
smooth, (stiv) for soothe, (brSv) for breathe. V is assimilated to 
m in (gimi) for give me. 



§ 24. a) Final t is usually unpronounced by the negroes and illit- 
erate whites, and sometimes by the educated ; as, (bes) for best, 
(wBs) for woi'st, (dS-Bs) for just, (kep) for kept, (sep) for except, 
(spek) for expect, (swep) for swept. This list of words could be 
prolonged almost indefinitely, but I give only a few as examples. 

b) The plural of nouns ending in st is always pronounced by 
negroes as if formed by adding es ; as, (p6stez) for posts, (gostez) 
for ghosts, (h6stez) for hosts, (trestez) for trusts, etc. 

c) A final t is added in (klost) for close, (se*mant) for sermon, 

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(vaamint) for vermin, (troft) for trough, (twaist) for twice, 
(wBDst) for once — all, illiterate dialects. 

d) T replaces d in (biyant) for beyond, (helt and hilt) for 
held, (holt) for hold, (tarekli) for directly. These words are, of 
course, used mainly by the uneducated. 

e) In the negro dialect t replaces th in (m-ent) for month, and 
becomes ch in (tfun) for tune and (stint J) for stint. 


§ 25. a) In the negro and illiterate white dialects d is regu- 
larly dropped after I and n; as, (tjilan) for children, (aen) for 
and, (graiin) for ground, (baun) for hound, (raun) for round, 
(haen) for hand, (61) for old, (f61) for fold. 

For change from d to t, see paragraph above. 

b) Before the yd sound, negroes regularly pronounce d ^sj; 
as, (d3uti) iov duty, (d3u) for dew, (dS^ibas) for dubious, (d3iirin) 
for during. D has the j sound also in (id3it) for idiot. 

§ 26. a) Th ()>) initial frequently, but not always, has the 
sound of t in the negro dialect ,*■ as, (tirjk) for think, (tot) for 
thought, (tri) for three, etc. However, thresh, thumb, thunder, are 
correctly pronounced. Th (|?) final, and in some cases th (|)) 
initial, has the sound of /; as, (fru) for through, (mauf) for 
mouth, (n-etin) for nothing, (tuf) for tooth, (bref) for breath, etc. 
The last list of words, as well as the first, belongs to the negro 

b) Th (fS) is nearly always pronounced as d at the beginning 
of words, by negroes; as, (dis) for this, (daet) for that, (dem) 
for them, (den) for then, etc. At the end of words, negroes gen- 
erally give (fS) the v sound; as (sm(iv) for smooth, (briv) for 
breathe, (suv) for soothe, etc. Sometimes negroes pronounce (t5) 
in the middle of words as d; as (br-eda) for brother, (aeuBda) for 
another, (nida) for neither. 


§ 27. a) Mistakes are made in the pronunciation of the gut- 
turals in only a few classes of words. O is almost always 
dropped at the end of words ending in -ing, I think that the 
illiterate never pronounce the g, and the educated very rarely 
do. Negroes do not pronounce the g before th in such words as 
strength, length. 

b) X is pronounced as z in (zaekli) for exactly, by negroes. 

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A. By illiterate whites the letter a is almost always used before 
the present participle, forming a part of the progressive, or 
continuous, state of the verb. They say ; " He was a going," 
" He is a living," " He has been a keeping store." This, no 
doubt, is akin to the a in such expressions as. He goes a 
fishing, a hunting, etc. This latter construction is, of course, 
derived from the A.-S. on followed by its appropriate object ; 
and from confusion with this the former construction has 

A. Final a in proper names is always pronounced as y by negroes 
and illiterate whites. They, say : " Miry," for Mira ; " Iju- 
cindy," for Lucinda ; ** Senatoby," for Senatobia ; " Minne- 
soty," for Minnesota, etc. 

Adge (M3). Negro for edge. 

Afeard (af-iard). This word, marked obsolete or provincial by 
Webster, is still in very common use by the negroes and 
uneducated whites in Mississippi. In it we see the preser- 
vation of an old form in the language of low life : as it is 
well known that the word afeard was once very commonly 
used by the best writers, and that it is, in fact, derived from 
A.-S. cefoered, p.p. of afoeran, to frighten. The form 
afeard is heard also in Louisiana and Massachusetts. 

A flutin* and a flyin* (tj fliitin sen -b flain). A phrase used gen- 
erally by the uneducated. When a man is moving rapidly in 
grand style, or succeeding remarkably well in any undertak- 
ing, he is said to be a flutin' and aflyin\ 

Afore (afoa) [A.-S. dtforan]. Although marked as obsolete 
in the dictionaries, it is still in common use among the illit- 
erate whites of Mississippi. 

Agin (agin). Negro and illiterate white for against. 

Ag on (aeg on) [A.-S. ecgan]. Negro and illiterate white for 
egg on, meaning to urge on, to incite. Used also in Louisiana. 

Ain't (eint). This is used by all classes for am not, are not, is 
not; and by negroes for has not and have not. Negroes 
nearly always say, " I ain't got " for I haven't got, and " He 
ain't seen " for He hasn't seen, etc. Cf. hainH. 

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Air (aea). Negroes and illiterate whites nearly always use this 
pronunciation for are. 

Alabam (aelabsera). Negro and illiterate white for Alabama. 

All (ol). The general use of all in such expressions as, "All 
the far he can run," " All the fast it can fly," etc., is peculiar. 
This use of all has, however, been noticed by Dr. Brown in 
his notes on dialects in Tennessee. All in this construc- 
tion corresponds almost exactly to the adverbial use of A.-S. 
eall, entirely ; as. All the far means entirely as far. 

Allers (olaz). Negro and illiterate white for always. 

All-to-smash (ol tv smsej). Bartlett gives this phrase as mean- 
ing " smashed to pieces." In Mississippi, however, it is used 
with the meaning that Baiiilett gives to " All-to-pieces " ; i.e. 
excessively ; as, " I beat him running all-to-smash.^^ 

Am (sdm). All persons of the verb to he, in the present tense, 
indicative, are involved in inextricable confusion by negroes. 
They say: "I is," "You am," "I are," "You is," "We 
am," etc. 

Ambeer (sembia). A common name for tobacco spittle, used by 
all classes. Bartlett says that this name is probably derived 
from amber, denoting its color. 

Anudder (aen-eda). A negro form for another. 

Anvil (aenv-l). A word once used by a colored friend of mine in 
the place of annual. He was speaking of an annual Metho- 
dist conference, and called it an anvil conference. The con- 
nection between this and the habit that Methodist ministers 
have of pounding on the pulpit is very striking/. 

Arrove (ser-6v). Used even by educated people for arrived, this 
past being formed upon the analogy of such words as drive, 
thrive, etc., a romance verb being thus confused with strong 
native verbs on account of the similarity of their root syl- 

Arter (ato). Negro for after. 

Article (at-ik-1). This word is pronounced by illiterate whites 
with a strong accent on the second syllable. This pronunci- 
ation is heard also in Tennessee. 

Ary (seri). Used by negroes and illiterate whites for e'er a; as, 
" I haint seed ary man to-day." This is a very common 
usage among these classes, being almost invariably employed 
for any or a single. 

As (sez). Used after comparatives, in the place of than, by illit- 

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erate whites. They say : *^ This is better as that," " I'd 
rather have this as that," etc. 
Ashy (aeji). Used by nearly all people here, as in Tennessee, as 
a synonym for angry. Dr. Brown gives the following excel- 
lent explanation of this use: "Shakespeare uses the word 
in the sense of poZe, in connection with the word anger, in 
^ Venus and Adonis ' : — 

** * Still is he sullen, still he lowers and frets, 
'IVixt crimson shame and anger, ashy pale.' 

From being one of the signs of anger this word comes at 
present to be used for anger itself." 

Ask a blessing. The methods used by illiterate whites in request- 
ing one to ask the blessing, or say grace, are numerous and 
interesting. I give some specimens ; " Ask the blessin' " ; 
" Say grace " ; " Grace the table " ; " Make a beginnin' " ; 
" Begin the meal " ; " Open the way " ; " Start off " ; " Look 

At (set). Used by negroes as equivalent to right (adv.) ; as, 
" Come at on " ; i.e. Come right on, come at once. 

Atter (seta). A pronunciation of after, used by negroes and illit- 
erate whites. 

Aunt or Aunty (sent or senti). An appellation applied by all 
classes to old colored women, as uncle is applied to old 
colored men. In addressing an old negress, it is customary 
to say aunty if her name is not known, and aunt with her 
name expressed if it is known ; as, " Aunt Dinah," " Aunt 
Sallie," etc. 

Ax (seks). Negro for ask. This form is now marked as obsolete 
or vulgar in the dictionaries, but it is as old as the English 
language itself, being derived from the A.-S. acsian, axian. 
According to Webster, Bartlett, and Pegge, it is still quite 
common in some portions of England among the illiterate 
classes. The form ast, a corruption, or rather mispronuncia- 
tion, of asked, is very common in Mississippi as well as in 

Bad off (bsed of). Used by all classes to mean unwell, sick. It 
also means an^ous for or desirous of; as, " He is bad off for a 
gun"; i.e. he is extremely anxious for a gun. It some- 

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times means poorly provided with; as, This country is 
bad off for horses ; i.e., has very few horses or very inferior 

Barbeshela (barbajela). A word borrowed from the Choctaw In- 
dian language, and used in the southern central portion of 
the State, by negroes and illiterate whites, to signify a 

Barl (barl). Illiterate white for barrel. Negroes generally call 
barrel, bod (bsel). Immigrants from North Carolina nearly 
always say barl. 

Bar off (ba of). A term used by farmers in the cultivation of 
cotton. When nearly all of the dirt is ploughed away from 
the cotton, so that the cotton-plant stands on a narrow ridge 
of ground, the cotton is said to be barred off. , This use of bar 
is, I suppose, derived from the noun bar, as the slender ridges 
of dirt on which the cotton-plant stands may well be called a 
bar. Howfever, it may come from the verb bare, as the roots 
of the plant are bared by the removal of the dirt. 

Barrygtaph (bserigrsef). A word that a member of the colored 
race once used, in my hearing, for photograph. He was going 
to have his barrygraph taken by a travelling photographer 
then in town. 

Begun (big"Bn). Used by educated people for began. This con- 
fusion of course may spring from the use of the past par- 
ticiple for the preterite, or it may be a relic of the old plural 
form of the past tense, begunnon. 

Berry (beri). Negro pronunciation of very. 

Bestest (bestes). Double superlative, formed from 5e5<. Used by 

Beyant (biyant). A common form, used by illiterate whites for 

Biem (biorn). Illiterate white for bum. An uneducated white 
man of North Mississippi once told me that he didn't mind 
eating pepper; it couldn't biem him. This pronunciation of 
burn is tolerably common. 

Biggity (bigiti). A word used to some extent by all classes, but 
principally by negroes or illiterate whites, to mean self-con- 
ceited. It is probably bigot with the adjectival ending y 
added. A bigoted man is nearly always biggity. 

Bile (bail). This word is used by both negroes and illiterate 
whites for the verb to boil and for the noun boil, a running 

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sore. It is heard also in Louisiana, and may be said to be 
common throughout the South. 

Bimeby (baimbai). Negro for by and by. 

Bip into (bip intu). Used by illiterate whites to mean to attack 
with either words or blows. Two speakers are said to bip 
into each other, when they attack each other in a lively or 
severe manner ; so also of pugilists. 

Blackguard (blaegad). Used by illiterate whites as a verb mean- 
ing to laugh and talk in a gay, frivolous manner, even though 
the conversation be perfectly chaste. This class of people 
speaks of the ordinary small talk of a sociable or reception as 

Blame from (bl§m frem). Largely used instead of blame for by 
all classes ; as, " I didn't blame him from crying when that 
man hit him." 

Blate (bl§t). Used by all classes for bleat; heard also in Louisi- 
ana ; and, according to Webster, is provincial in England. 

Bleedged or Bleedzed (blid3d or blidzd). Negro for obliged. 
These forms are common in the majority of the Southern 
States. The pronunciation {dbVidZd) was once regarded as a 
mark of gentility in Virginia., as I am informed. 

Block and tickle (blok send tik-1). Almost universally used by 
workmen for block and tackle. Webster says that ta.ckle is 
frequently pronounced (tSk-1); this, however, is, I think, not 
heard in Mississippi. 

Blowed up (blod -ep). Illiterate white for bloated. A man be- 
comes blowed up by the constant use of whiskey. 
^Boil (boil). Illiterate white for bile, used also in Kentucky. 
"He vomited boil." This is the only instance that I can 
recall in which oi takes the place of i, and I suppose that the 
confusion in this word is due to the fact that the word boil is 
generally pronounced bile (bail) by the illiterate, and that, 
probably recognizing the error of this, they endeavor to atone 
for it, thus giving us boil, where in reality we should have 

Bone (b6n). Bartlett gives this word as meaning to apply one's 
self closely. But in Mississippi it is largely used by all 
classes to mean to dun. 

Bonibus (bonibus). Illiterate white for ayionymous. This word 
is current in Holmes County at least. 

Borry (bori). Negro for borrow. Also used in Canada. 

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Bound (baund). This word is used by negroes (sometimes by 
white people) to mean to assert positively, or sometimes 
almost with the sense of to bet or wager or confidently expect; 
as " I bound dat nigger sho yelled when dat toof was pulled." 

Branch (brsentf). Used by all classes for any very small stream, 
without having the least reference to its being a tributary of 
any larger stream. 

Brer (br-e). Negro for brother. 

Bresh (brej). Negro for brush. 

Brass (bres). Negro for bless. 

Brickie and Brickly (brik-1 and brikli). Used mostly by negroes 
and illiterate whites, meaning brittle, easily broken. The 
word seems to be a hybrid between break and brittle. Ac- 
cording to Bartlett, brickly is used in Georgia. Both are used 
in Louisiana by settlers of English lineage. 

Brief (brif). Used by negroes to mean nice, elegant. I once heard 
a negro tell a young man who had dressed up to go to see his 
sweet-heart : " Boss, you sho looks brief." De Vere says that 
brief is used by the lower classes in Virginia to mean peart, 
lively; as, "The wind is brief to-day"; i.e. the wind is 
brisk or lively. In New England 6ne/ means prevalent; as, 
"The measles are brief in Boston." 

Brotheren or Brudderen ( br-e^ar-n or bredar-n) . Negro and illiterate 
white for brethren. 

Brung (bi-^rj). Negro for brought. This form doubtless owes its 
origin to analogy with such words as sing, sling, ring. 

Bruze around (bruz-a-^raun). A negro phrase meaning to wander 
around, to go about without any set purpose. 

Bullis (bulis). A word much used by the negroes of the southern 
central portion of Mississippi for muscadine. Its plural is 

Bull tongue plow (bul t-Bi] plau). A kind of plough with a very- 
narrow share shaped somewhat like a bull's tongue, hence the 

Bump (bi3mp). This word is used principally by school-boys. 
The process of bumping is as follows : four boys take hold of 
another, each one seizing a leg or an arm, and swing him ^ 
that the rear of his anatomy strikes against a tree with con- 
siderable force. Buck is the term used for this in Kentucky. 

Bumptious (b^mpj^s). Both Webster and Bartlett quote from 
Halliwell in regard to this word, and he says that it means 

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" self-conceited, forward, pushing J^ The negroes of Mississippi, 
however, use this word to mean irascible, easily angered. 

Bust (b^st). This pronunciation of burst is by no means confined 
to Mississippi, yet as it is so much used here, I think that it 
should be mentioned. Bust is used to mean a failure of any 
kind; but is most frequently used to signify a commercial 
failure, or in the University, a failure in recitation. At 
Vanderbilt University, Cornell, and many other colleges also, 
it has the latter meaning. Bust is sometimes used to denote 
a spree. In all of these meanings, except the last, bust is 
used both as a noun and as a verb — a man busts or makes a 

By sun (bai s^n). Negro and illiterate white for before sunset 
Among the lower classes of society, it is usual to reckon time 
by the sun ; so " an hour, or two hours, by sun '* means an 
hour or two hours before sunset. 


Cahoot (kSh-ut). According to Bartlett, used in the South and 
West, to denote a partnership or company. It is certainly 
much used by all classes in Mississippi in this sense. Two 
men are said to be in cahoot when they act jointly in any 
manner. This word differs from snooks, in that it means the 
partnership itself, whereas snooks refers rather to the results 
of a partnership. Men go snooks with the proceeds that arise 
as a result of their being in cahoot. 

Capen (ksepn). Negro for captain. 

Carry (kaeri). Carry, in the sense of escort, accompany, or lead, 
is very commonly used by all classes — a young man carries 
his sweet-heart to church; a man carries a horse to water, etc. 
This use is common in Virginia and Maryland. 
>Cat (kaet). A certain game of ball. In this sense there are two 
kinds of cat, — one-eyed cat and two-eyed cat. In the former 
there is only one batter, in the latter, two. This game is 
played also in Kentucky and District of Columbia. 

Cat has got his tongue (kaetz g-et iz t-erj). If a question be ad- 
dressed to any one, and no answer be given, people say that 
the cat has got that individual's tongue; in which event it 
would, of course, be impossible for him to speak. 

Cavort (kd'vort). This word is given by the Century Dictionary 
as slang and as probably connected with curvet. It is, how- 

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ever, so commonly used in Mississippi by all classes to mean 
to prance, to rage, to create a disturbance, that I venture to 
place it in this list of dialect words. 

Chany (tJSni). Negro for china, used in speaking of chinaware. 
This word was formerly in good use in England. 

Chaw tobacco more than once (tfo tabaeka m69 fSn wenst). A very 
common phrase .among negroes and illiterate whites. It 
means to repeat. A negro says : " I never chaws my ter- 
backer mo dan wunst," meaning, " I never repeat anything." 
Here we also' see the old form chaw preserved. 

Cheep (tjip). Illiterate white for word of protest or complaint. 
In the language of the uneducated white people, you never 
hear a ch^ep from any one perfectly satisfied. 

Cheer (tji8). Is commonly used by illiterate whites as an in- 
transitive verb meaning to become cheerful. The adverb up, 
which is generally put after cheer when it has this intransitive 
meaning, is omitted by these people. They say, for instance : 
"As soon as he saw his mother, he began to cheer" ; i.e. to 
cheer up. 

Cheer (tfia). Common negro and illiterate white pronunciation 
of chair. Heard also in Louisiana. 

Chillun (tjilan). Negro for children. 

Chimbly (tjimbli). Negro and illiterate white for chimney. Heard^ 
also in Kentucky, New and Old England, and Louisiana. 

Chist (tjist). Negro and illiterate white pronunciation of chest. 
Bartlett says that chist is also common in New England. 

Chomp (tfomp). This pronunciation of champ is the one always 
used by negroes in Mississippi ; and, according to Bartlett, it 
is heard also in New England, the western part of the United 
States, and even in the north of England. Educated people 
of Mississippi, however, generally give this word the correct 

Choogor Chug (tjug or tj-eg). Both used in Tennessee in the 
same sense as in Mississippi, i.e. to cast into the water or, 
sometimes, to punch; as, "He chugged me in the ribs." Dr. 
Brown says that, in the sense of casting into the water, the 
word has special reference to the sound made by the object 
in striking the water. 

Chune (tjun). Negro for tune. 

Chunk (tf-enk). Illiterate white for something moderately good 
or nice; as, "They had a chunk of a wedding"; i.e. a 
moderately nice wedding. 

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Cillustrious (sil-BStms). Illiterate white for illustrious. I have 
noticed this usage only in the following line of a hymn : 
"When that cillustrious day shall rise." 

Closte (kl6st). Almost always used by negroes and illiterate 
whites for dose. This occurs also in Tennessee and else- 
where in the United States. 

Clum (kl-em). Used by negroes and illiterate whites for dimhed, 
and is doubtless akin to the old preterite domh. It is used 
also in Louisiana and New England. 

Collards (kolardz). Used by all classes for cdlewort, a kind of 
cabbage that does not grow to a head. Bartlett says that it 
is common in the South. 

Come (k-em). Quite generally used by all classes for came. 

Come up to the scratch (k-em -ep tu ^8 skrsetj) . Used by all classes 
to mean to do one^s duty, to do what is expeded of one. It is 
akin to the expression to come up to the chalk used in other 
parts of the United States with the same meaning as to corae 
up to the scratch is used in Mississippi. 

Companion (k-emp-senyBn). Used to mean wife by a large number 
of educated people — a very fitting specialization of the 
generic term, as a man's wife is, for him, the companion above 
all others. 

Confab (konf-aeb). This word, which Webster gives as a contrac- 
tion of confabulation, is used by negroes both as a verb and as 
a noun : as a verb, it means to talk with one familiarly ; as a 
noun, it means familiar conversation. 

Consamed (kons-arnd). Illiterate white for concerned. This is a 
favorite expletive among the lower classes of whites. They 
say : " I'll be cousarned if it ain't so" ; " Consarn the thing" ; 
" That consarned old mule like to broke my neck." 
on (kun). This is the ordinary contraction for raccoon, and of 
late has come to be extensively used to mean also a negro. 
I think this last usage should rather be classed as slang ; it 
is common to all of the Southern States, and even extends to 
our more northern brethren. 

Coon (kun). Used by all classes to mean to crawl over. If a 
man cannot walk a log over a creek, he gets down on his 
hands and knees and coons it ; or if he get astride of the log 
and pull himself along with his hands, he is then also said to 
coon it. 

Coon's age (kunz §d3). A negro term for a long time. The im- 


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pression that raccoons are very long-lived seems to prevail 
among the colored race. In speaking to an acquaintance 
that they have not seen for some time, they say : " Whar's 
you bin, I ain't seed you in a coon's-age." Bartlett mentions 
this as used in Texas and other Southern States. 

Country jake (k^ntri d3§k). A man whose dress and manners 
proclaim him to be from the backwoods. Used also in 

Cowcumber (kauk-emba). Negro and illiterate white for cucumber, / 
Used also in Kentucky, and said to have been formerly the 
correct pronunciation in England. 

Cracked (kraekt). This word is used by all classes for crack- 
brained, slightly demented. 

Crank-sided (kraenks -aided). Used by all classes to mean twisted 
or bent to one side. A man may be cranksided physically, 
mentally, or morally. The word is, of course, also used of ^ 
inanimate objects. Frequently heard in Tennessee. 

Crap (krsep). Negro pronunciation of crop. 

Crep (krep). Used largely by all classes for crept. 

Crope (kr6p). Negro for crept. The form crope is marked ob- 
solete by Webster; it is, however, preserved in negro speech, 
and is much nearer the A.-S. forms creap and crupon (?) than 
the modern preterite crept is. 

Curtail (k-ert-^l). Understood by negroes to mean to cut off the 
tail. A colored brother, in a moment of religious enthusiasm, 
once exclaimed in response to the preacher's request for the 
Lord to curtail the power of the devil : " Yes ! Lawd, cut his 
tail smack and smoove off." 

Cuss (k-Bs). Used by all classes for curse. This word is, of 
course, in nowise confined to Mississippi, but as this pro- 
nunciation is so common here, I have thought it best to men- 
tion it. Cuss as a noun, Bartlett says, is an abbreviation of 
customer, and means a worthless fellow, a scamp. 

Cute (kyut). Bartlett gives the word as current in New Eng- 
land, among the uneducated, with the meaning of axiute, 
sharp, keen; and says that it is an abbreviation of acute. In 
Mississippi this word is used by all classes to mean charming, 
attractive, and is generally applied to small things. We 
speak of a cute baby, a cuie girl, a cute hat, etc. The word 
little generally follows cute or is understood after it. It 
seems that in order to be really cute a thing must in some 

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way be diminutive. The word has the latter meaning in 
New York. 
Cyam (kyan). Negro for carrion, 


Daddy (daedi). Webster gives the word as used by small children 
for father. In Mississippi this word is used principally by 
negroes, and is frequently applied to old negroes without any 
idea of paternity. Daddy Jack would ordinarily mean an 
older negro than Unde Jack. 

Dame (dSm). A euphemistic form of damn, used to some extent 
by illiterate whites. 

Dar (da). Negro for dare and for there, 

Dassent (dsesnt). Negro for dare not. Used also in New England. 

Dead give way (ded giv wg). All classes use this term to mean a 
complete exposure; as, "What he said was a dead give way; 
i.e. completely exposed his character, purpose, intentions, or 
something of the kind. 
> Dead-line (dedlain). A word used by boys in playing the game 
of marbles called ring-men. It is a line drawn two or three 
feet from the ring, between the ring and taws. If a player 
fail to plump over tl^is line, he is thrown out of the game. 
The word is used in Kentucky with the same meaning. 

Debbie (debl). Negro for devil. 

Deesh (dij). Illiterate white and negro pronunciation of dish. 

Dientical (dai-entak-l). Very frequently used by negroes and 
illiterate whites for identical. 

Differs not (difes not). Sometimes used by illiterate whites for 
matters not; slh, "It differs not whether it be true or not." 

Dip (dip). Illiterate white for sauce to be used with pudding. 
Bartlett marks the word as Southwestern. Dip is also used 
for dip of snuff, the word sriuff being generally omitted. 

Dirt up (dert -ep). In the cultivation of cotton this phrase is 
used as the exact opposite of bar off. When the intervening 
space between the rows is so ploughed as to throw the dirt 
up to the cotton-plant, the cotton is said to be dirted up. 

Disremember (disrememba). Webster marks this form as obsolete 
in England and local in America. It certainly is very largely 
used in Mississippi, and probably throughout the South, by 
the lower classes of both colors. 

Do (do). Negro for though and for door. 

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Does (d-Bz). Used by negroes for do; as, "I does; they does." . 

Done (d-Bii). This word is very often interposed between the / 
auxiliary have and the past participle, to give additional com- 
pleteness to the sense ; as, " I have done lost," which seems 
to mean more than " I have lost." This distinction is not 
always observed ; done lost is very frequently used when we 
should expect simple lost, and vice versa. Bartlett says that 
this use of done is a very common vulgarism throughout the 

Do odds and eens (du odz sen inz). Illiterate whites use this ex- 
pression for doirig small jobs about the house ; for instance, 
old women sometimes say : '-^ I've been a doin* odds and eens 
all morniu'." Educated people sometimes use the phrase 
with the same meaning, but give it the correct pronunciation. 

Dove (dov). Commonly used for dived by negroes and illiterate 
whites, and sometimes even by educated people. It is 
another instance of the survival of old forms in common 
speech, when they have become obsolete in elegant discourse. 
According to Bartlett this form is also used in Canada even 
by the cultivated classes. It is heard also in Louisiana. 

Drank (drsenk). This past tense is confused with the past parti- 
ciple even by educated people, so that they say : " I drunk " 
and "I have drank." 

Drap (draep). Negro for drop. Commonly used in Louisiana, 
and rarely heard in New England. 

Drapped his bait-can (draept iz bSt-kaen). A negro expression 
meaning made a mistake. Its origin is evident ; one of the 
most serious mistakes that an angler can make, is to drop his 
bait-can, especially if it fall into the water. Thus dropped 
his bait-can has acquired the general meaning of making any 
serious mistake. If a man says or does anything that after- 
wards turns out unfortunately for him, he is said to have 
dropped his bait-can when he said or did it. 

Dreen (drin). Negro for drain, meaning a ravine or ditch. It is sj 
used also in Kentucky, New England, and Louisiana. 

Drug (dr-Bg). A form for dragged, still used, even by educated 
people. This form is more nearly allied to the A.-S. strong 
verb dragan, drdg, dragen, than the more elegant weak form 
dragged is; and, I suppose, should be classed among old /' 
forms preserved in common speech. It is used also in Ten- 
nessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. 

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Druther (druSa). Preference. This is probably a corruption of 
had rather, I heard it in the following sentence spoken by 
an old negro woman : " Everybody has their druthers, and I 
^ would rather you would do this than anybody." Druther for 
would rather is very common, but in its noun use given above, 
it is rare. 

Druv (drev). Negro for drove (verb). Driv (driv) is some- 
times heard for drove. Both driv and drav are common in 

Due me a compliment (dyu mi a komplimant). A phrase used 
quite frequently by illiterate whites "for owe me an apology ; 
as, "Mr. Smith, you are due me a compliment for the way 
you acted yesterday." 

Donno (d^»n6). Negro and illiterate white for donH know. 

East (ist). The common pronunciation of yeast. YeoM is so 

pronounced in Tennessee also. 
Easy (izi). Used by all classes for gently, softly, as, walk or talk 

easy. It has the same meaning in Louisiana, New England, 

Ohio, North Carolina, and Tennessee. 
Ebry (ebri). Negro for every. 
Een or Eend (in or ind). Illiterate white for end. 
Eetchj (itji). Negro corruption of itch, used as a verb. In the 

secondary meaning of long for or eagerly desire, it is more 

frequently heard. A negro once told me that on a cold 

morning he felt more like working, but that he never did 

eetchy for work. 
Elected (il*ekted). Illiterate whites use this word to mean to be 

provided with, to have a sufficient supply of. They say : " I am 

elected as to corn " ; i.e. " I am provided with corn " ; "I have 

a sufficient supply of corn." 
Ellum (el-m). Negro and illiterate white for elm. Used also in 

Canada and Tennessee. 
Enduring (end-yurir|). Negro term for during. This is frequently 

followed by of; as, enduring of the day. 
-ent (ent). It is a characteristic of the illiterate white inhabitants 

of the pine district of Mississippi to give special emphasis to 

the pronunciation of this syllable when final ; as, president, 

commandment, contentment, 
-es (ez). The plural form, ending in es, is given to nearly all 

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words ending in t, by negroes ; as, posies, ghostes, Jiostes, etc., 

for posts, ghosts, hosts. 
Et and Eat (et and it). Both of these forms are employed for 

ate by both educated and uneducated people to a very large 

extent. Et is probably used more than eat. 
Every and Ever (evri and eva). A strange confusion of these two 

words exists in the speech of the uneducated; they say: 

"every since" and "ever man"; e.g. "She has been here 

every since I can remember," "He hit ever man in the crowd." 

Fashion (fsejn). This word is sometimes used by illiterate whites 
for habit. An old man once told me that it was always his 
fashion to shake his head during the preaching if he did not 
agree with the minister. 

Fat (faet). A word used in the game of marbles called ring-men. 
If a player's taw stops in the ring, it is said to be foU. Used 
also in District of Columbia. 

Favor (f^va). In the sense of to resemble, Webster marks this 
word as obsolete, but it is still very largely used, with this 
meaning, by all classes of Mississippians. 

Fee-lark (fi-lark). The common name for meadow-lark, used by 
all classes in Mississippi. It is a corruption of field-lark. 

Feels his oats (filz iz 6tz). Used by all classes. A horse is said 
to feel his oats when he frisks and prances around. In Mis- 
sissippi, as in New England, it is also applied to persons that 
are frisky and sometimes to those that are self-conceited : in 
the latter sense it is equivalent to feels his importance. This 
phrase is used also in England and Ireland. A phrase used 
in Germany with essentially the same meaning is, ihm sticht 
der Hafer. 

Feesh (fij). Illiterate white and negro pronunciation offish. 

Fisticuff (tistik"Bf). Illiterate white for fighting with the fists. 
As a noun the word is common in the United States, but I 
have never heard of its being used as a verb elsewhere than 
in Mississippi. 

Fit (fit). Negro for fought Fout (faut) is also used for fought 
by negroes. Fit is also used in West Virginia and Tennessee. 

Fitten (fitn). This is used by illiterate whites for fit. They seem 
to confuse the adjective with an imaginaiy strong participle 
of the verb to fit, or it may possibly be the word fitting with 
the g un pronounced. 

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Fit to kill (tit ta kil). Used by negroes and illiterate whites to 
mean excessively; as, He laughed j^^ to kill; i.e. immoderately. 

Flesh crawl (flej krol). When cold chills run over one, especially 
if caused by some harsh or grating noise, one's flesh is said 
to crawl. In the greater portion of the United States the 
word creep is used instead of crawL 

Flugins (fludi3nz). A word used to some extent by all classes, 
generally in the following connection : " It is as cold as 
flugins." I do not know either the origin or the exact mean- 
ing of the term ; it seems to be merely an intensive. I tind 
no record of its use elsewhere. 

Flummergasted (fli-Bmarg-sested). Used by illiterate whites for 
embarrassed^ or befuddled. In their parlance a man sometimes 
becomes flummergasted when he rises to make a speech, and 
so forgets what he wishes to say. 

Flustrate (fl^strSt). This word is used, even by educated people, 
instead of fluster, and has the same meaning. 

Fly up the creek (flai -ep t5i krik). This is quite a common term 
among the illiterate whites for a shallow, silly person. 

For (f-e). This preposition is still largely used by illiterate whites 
before an infinitive of purpose. " They say he went for to 
see " ; " He hit for to kill." As is very well known, this use 
of for was extremely common in the earlier periods of the 
language ; and, in fact, has not very long been obsolete, being 
commonly used in the Bible. 

For keeps (f-e kipz). A common phrase which boys use in play- 
ing marbles. In playing for keeps, each player puts a cer- 
tain number of marbles in a ring, and each keeps all that he 
knocks out. 

Fotch (fotj). Negro for fetch and fetched. 
\ Fox-fire (foks faia). Used by all classes for the phosphorescent 
^ glow that decayed wood sometimes emits after a season of 

rainy weather. Used also in Kentucky. It is probably a 
corruption of phosphor. 

Fox-grape (foks-gr§p). Bartlett makes the following note on 
this word: ^^ (Vitis labrusca). A large grape common on 
the borders of streams. The surface of the leaf is charac- 
terized by its foxy pubescence. The Southern fox-grape is 
vitis vulpina. Its fruit is larger and its taste more agreeable 
than the former." 

The grape, commonly called fox-grape in Mississippi, is 

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very small and very sour. It is called also coon-grape and 

Frail (fr^l). Used by all classes to mean to whip, to beat A 
father says to his son : " If you don't stop that, I will frail 
you until you can't sit down." Webster gives frail as a 
noun, meaning a " rush for weaving baskets," and this noun 
may have been converted into a verb, especially since the 
whipping, or frailin^, is generally done with a rush or 

Frazzle (fraezl). Used especially by negroes, and sometimes by 
white people, to mean to fray, to ravel, or, in fact, to wear 
out in almost any way. It has two meanings, different, 
though in some respects allied; for instance, if a switch be / 
worn into shreds on some one, the switch is said to be 
frazzled, and the person whipped is also said to be frazzled; 
hence the word also means to whip. With the meaning of 
to fray it is also used in Kentucky. The word may be 
related to frizzle. 

Frez (frez). !Negro for froze and frozen. "I nearly frez to 
to death," "He shivered like he was frez." 

Froo (fru). A negro pronunciation of through. 

Fudge (f-edS). Used by boys in playing marbles. A player is 
said to fudge when he reaches further toward the marbles/ 
that he is shooting at than the position of his taw justifies. 
Used also in Kentucky. 

Fum (f^m). Negro for from. 

Fun (f-en). Used by all classes as a verb, meaning to joke or 
jest. Used also in New England, Louisiana, North Carolina, 
and Tennessee. 

Funny-bone (funibdn). A name used in Mississippi by all classes 
to mean that particular bone in the elbow that is generally 
called crazy-hone in the other parts of the United States. 

Fust (f-Bst). Negro for first. The final t is sometimes unpro- 
nounced, so as to make fus. 


G. Final g in present participles, or in any other wbrds end- 
ing in ing, is nearly always omitted in the pronunciation by 
all classes. 

G and C. The pronunciation of c and g, as if followed by a 
vocalic y just before the letter a, is of frequent occurrence in 

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the language of the lower classes of Mississippi, and is some- 
times heard even in the conversation of cultivated people. 
I think that this pronunciation came originally from Vir- 
ginia and South Carolina. Examples of it are : gyarden for 
garden; cyar for car; segyar for cigar. This ya sound may, 
I think, be regarded as the result of the breaking of the a 
owing to the palatal immediately preceding. 

Gal (gael). Girl. This word is by no means confined to Mis- 
sissippi, but it is so generally used by the uneducated 
classes, both white and black, that I think it worthy of 

Galluses (gaelasez). The common name among negroes and un- 
educated whites for suspenders, Bartlett says that this 
word, spelled gallowses, is also used in England. I suppose 
that this word is derived from gallows, which, of course, is 
used for hanging criminals, and that the term has been 
applied to suspenders because they are used to suspend 

Garden-sass (gadn-sses). Used by negroes and illiterate whites 
for vegetables. It means exactly the same as garden-truck, 
which is a well-known term. 

Gass (gses). Used by all classes to mean to talk familiarly, fool- 
ishly, or in an exaggerated manner. Women gass about their 
neighbors; farmers gass about the crops, politics, etc. A 
man's conversation is disparaged when it is said that he was 
only gassing. 

Gater (g^ta). Negro for alligator. 

Gawd (god). Negro and illiterate white for Ood. 

Gee Whiz I and Gee Whittakerl (d3i hwiz and d3i hwittaker). 
Exclamation of surprise, used by all classes. Both of these 
expressions are used in Cincinnati, and the latter in New 
England also. Their origin is obscure. Professor Hart sug- 
gests that gee is from Jesus. 

Gemman (dSeman). Negro for gentleman. 

Get off (get of). Used by illiterate whites to mean to acquit one^s 
self well in any undertaking ; as, "Mr. Smith did not get off 
in that speech like he usually does " ; i.e. did not do himself 
as much credit as usual. This use of get off is entirely dif- 
ferent from that meaning to say; as, " He got off the speech 
. well " ; the first being intransitive, the second transitive. 

\ Get up and dust (get -ep sen dijst). An expression, used mainly 

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by negroes, meaning to leave in a great hurry, to go away 
swiftly. The past tense is got up and dusted. This expres- 
sion occurs also in Kentucky and Tennessee. 

Gimme (gimi). Negro for give me. This should, most probably, 
be written gi^ me, showing the contmction of give, which is 
almost, if not quite, identical with the Scotch abbreviation 
of the same word. 

Gin (gin). A negro form for gave, 

Ginral (d3inral). Negro for general, both noun and adjective. 
Ginerly (dsinaly) is the negro pronunciation of generally. 

Git (git). Used to a large extent, by all classes, for get, 

Gittin place (gitn pl^s). The general name for the place where 
anything has been, or can be, obtained, used by negroes and 
illiterate whites in the following connection : " Whar did yo' 
git dem cloze, nigger ? " " Got em at de gittin place.^- This 
is meant as a witty retort, and is said in order to crush the 
questioner and stop further inquiries. 

Give (giv). Used even by educated people for gave. 

Give a fry off of one's liver (giv a frai of -bv wenz liva). This 
phrase is used by negroes to indicate a very great desire for 
something ; as, " She would give a fry off of her liver for that 

Give me a lief (giv mi a lif ) . This expression is used principally 
by boys ; and, when nothing else is added, it means allow me 
to throw at you. However, it is very generally employed as 
equivalent to give me permission, and the thing asked to be 
permitted, of course, naturally follows. This use of Zie/is, 
I suppose, merely a corruption of leave. 

Give one scissors (giv wen sizaz). Used by illiterate whites to 
mean to score one severely, to lash with the tongue. They say 
when a speaker severely assails some one: "He gave him 
scissors, didn't he ? " 

Go a gilpin (g5 e gilpin). Used by all to mean to go fast. Dr. 
Brown explains this expression in the following words : " To 
go gilpin is a common expression which I take to be derived 
from the story of ' John Gilpin's Ride.' " In Mississippi the 
phrase is never used without the insertion of a between go 
and gilpin. Tt may be a corruption of go-Orgalloping or go-a- 
Go a kitin (go a kaitin). This, as noted by Dr. Brown, means 
about the same thing as to go a gilpin; i.e. to go fast. 

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Dr. Brown thiuks that it originally meant to go like a 

Goody (gu(li). Used by all classes for the edible kernel of any 
kind of nut. The exclamatory goody, denoting gratification, 
is also used in Mississippi. 

Ground-hog case (graun hog k^s). This might be classed under 
the head of slang. It is used by all classes in Mississippi. 
It means the last resort, the ultimatum; as, "Do you suppose 
that he will succeed this time ? " " He has to, it is a ground- 
hog case with him." 

Growed (gr6d). Negro for grew. 

Gruntin (grentn). Negro and illiterate white for unwell, but no« 
dangerously sick; as, "Mr. Jones is still gruntin this morn- 
ing"; i.e. Mr. Jones is still somewhat ill. Coinplainin^ is 
used with the same meaning. This acquired meaning of 
these two words can be easily accounted for, as one who is 
slightly ill nearly always either grunts or complains or does 

Guv (gi3v). A negro form for gave, 

Gwine (gwain). The common negro form for going. Used 
throughout the South. 

Gyardeen (gya-din). Illiterate white for guardian. Bartlett says 
that this pronunciation is used also in New England, Penn- 
sylvania, and Ohio. Oadeen (gadin) is used in Kentucky. 
Professor M. G. Daniell, of New England, says : " I find the 
word spelled guardeen in a Suffolk (Mass.) probate document 
dated April 14, 1761." 


Hade (hM). Negro for head. 

Hain't (hgnt). Used by illiterate whites to mean: is not, are not, 
am not, has not, and have not. In New England, it means 
am not. 

Half and half (hsef sen hsef ) . This expression is used in England 
to mean a mixture of equal parts of two kinds of liquor or of 
half liquor and half water, but I have never heard of its being 
used for a mixture of half molasses and half coffee anywhere 
else than among the illiterate whites of the backwoods dis- 
tricts of Mississippi. 

Hand-write (hsend rait). For hand-writing. Bartlett notices this 
as "a common barbarism at the South," and I think it 
is especially common among the illiterate whites of Mis- 

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sissippi, who very rarely indeed use the correct form hand- 

Hant (haent). This word is, of course, a corruption of haunt, and 
is used by the negroes of Mississippi both as a .noun and as 
a verb. As a noun, it means a spectre or ghost; as a verb, it 
means to frequent as a spectre or ghost. Not only places but 
also persons may be hunted. It is quite a common saying 
among negroes : *' If a man wus tuh kill me, I'd hant him to 
death." The noun is used in Kentucky, and, in fact, I think 
that both meanings are known wherever our colored brother 
has wandered. 

Happify (haepifai). Used by illiterate whites to mean to make 
happy. According to Bartlett, it is used also in New England. 

Har (ha). Negro for hair. 

Hattuh (haetd). Negro for have to, in the sense of being under 
obligation to do. Haf to (haef) is used in Cincinnati, New # 
England, Philadelphia. Hajter, in Kentucky. "^ 

Have did (haev did). In trying to be correct, negroes sometimes 
use this instead of have done. However, the confusion of 
the past tense and past participle is so common with negroes 
and illiterate whites that I shall not attempt to make any- 
thing like an exhaustive enumeration of the instances of it. 
But I shall try to notice the most common and most striking 

Have it (haev it). Used by all classes for to fight or quarrel; as, 
" He and his wife had it up and down all day long " ; " They 
talked until their patience gave out and then they had it.^' 
The phrase up and doum is very frequently joined to this ex- 
pression, and seems to imply that the fight or quarrel was a 
thorough and complete one. 

He (hi). The almost universal use of the third person pronoun 
after names by illiterate whites of Mississippi should be 
noted. They very rarely say that John or Susan did it, but 
nearly always " John he " or " Susan she " did it. I know 
that this error is very common in other places, but it is so 
largely used here, that I have thought it best to mention it. 

Head over heels (hed ova hilz). The phrase heels over head is 
changed to head over heels; the first is rarely or never heard 
in Mississippi. There seems to be an exact parallel for this 
in Germany ; in northeastern Germany the phrase Hals iiber 
Kopf, neck over head, is altered to Kopf iiber Hals, head over 

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neck, these phrases meaning the same thing as heels over head 
or head over heels. 

Heap (hip). Used by all classes to mean, a large amount, a great 
deal, to a grea^ degree : " I saw a heap of men " ; ." There was 
a heap of fun "; "I like him a heap." Bartlett notices this 
word with these meanings, but as it is so very common in 
Mississippi, I have ventured to embody it in this thesis. He 
also says that this use of heap, except as an adverb, is heard 
in England, and is regarded there as a vulgarism. 

Heam (hern). Illiterate white for heard, Bartlett says that it is 
common in the United States. 

Heben (hebn). Negro for heaven, 

Hed (hed). Frequently used by negroes for had. 

Heeyrd (hyiad). Negro and illiterate white for heard. 

Hellion (helyen). Used by all classes to mean a wild, reckless, 
daredevil person, and is of course derived from hell. At 
first it probably meant inhabitant of hell. It is also used in 
Massachusetts, and is thus explained in " Dialect Notes." 

Help-meat (help-mit). Illiterate white for help-meet The igno- 
rant classes seem to think that this term is a compound word, 
and that it is applied to husband or wife, because it is the 
duty of each to help the other obtain meat, i.e. sustenance, 
for the family. As is well known the words mean help 
suitable or proper. 

Hender (hende). This is always used by negroes for hinder. It 
is heard also in Louisiana and New England. 

Hep (hep). This pronunciation of help is quite frequently used 
by people of all classes. This is heard also in Tennessee. 
Sef, as a contraction for self, likewise occurs in both states. 

Hilt (hilt). Negroes and illiterate whites frequently use this 
word for held. They also say helt. 

pime (haim). This pronunciation of hymn is frequently used in 
Mississippi by the illiterate whites. It was formerly used 
also in Kentucky, but is now becoming rare there. 

Hit (hit). Very frequently used by negroes and illiterate whites 
for it. I cannot say whether it is the A.-S. word retained or 
not j however, it is identical in form with A.-S. hit, meaning 
it. 1 think it is rather to be attributed to cockney influence. 

Hitch (hit J). Used by negroes and illiterate whites to mean to 
come together in a fight. They say: "If you don't stop your 
projickin, me and you will hitch.^^ 

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Ho (h5). Sometimes used by clerks in dry-goods stores to mean 
one of a pair of hose, one stocking. This usage is, however, . 
not very general. 

Hoe (ho). A name for a culinary utensil, a kind of skillet with- 
out sides. In this are baked hoe-cakes. Bartlett says that 
these cakes are so called because they are baked on hoes, the 
agricultural implements, in some of the interior parts of the 
country where cooking-vessels are scarce. If this be true, I 
suppose that hoe, the skillet, is derived through hoe-cake from 
hoe, the agricultural tool, as the cakes baked on the cooking- 
vessels are of the same kind as those that Bartlett says are 
baked on the tools. 

Holt (hdlt). This pronunciation of the noun hold is heard among 
all classes. Used also in Tennessee and Canada. 

Hone (h6n). Used by negroes and illiterate whites to mean to 
desire strongly, to yearn for. This word is marked obsolete 
in Webster, but is very frequently heard among the lower 
classes of Mississippi, and even educated people sometimes 
use it. An old preacher of Copiah County, a rather intelligent 
man, was once heard to say in a sermon : " If a penitent gets 
religion, he must hone for it." A state senator from the same 
county was heard to use the same word. 

Hongry (horjri). Negro for hungry. 

Hooey (hu-i). The sound used to drive cows out of one's way. 
It is probably a corruption of huiiry. The Southern pronun- 
ciation of r is not at all distinct ; and if this be taken into 
account, we have the two sounds {hu-i) and {hrhi) almost 
the same. And as a matter of fact (Jiu-i) is very frequently 
pronounced almost exactly {hv-i), 

Hoop-hooee (hup-hui). This represents, as nearly as I can re- 
present it, the sound made by farmers in calling hogs. The 
accent is equally emphatic on each syllable of the word. 

Hope (hop). Negroes use this pronunciation of holp, which they 
employ for help and helped; sometimes, however, they form 
a past tense holped (hoped) from the present holp. In this 
word the negroes preserve the vowel o of the past tense of 
the A.-S. strong verb helpan, but on this strong stem they 
sometimes form a weak past and past participle, as mentioned 
above. Holp is used also in Louisiana. Bartlett says the 
word holp is heard in Virginia and New England, and in 
Virginia holped also is used. 

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Horse for (hos f-c). Used by the lower orders of society to mean 
to loTig for, to earnestly desire. It is evidently derived from a 
mare's desiring the stallion, as she is then said to be horsing. 
Having sprung from this origin, the expression to horse for 
now has as wide application as the word desire; in the parlance 
of negroes and illiterate whites, a man, woman, or child may 
horse for anything. 

Hospittle (hosp-itl). Negroes and illiterate whites always accent 
hospital on the second syllable, so as to make it sound as if 
spelled hospittle. 

Hoss (hos). Illiterate white for horse. This pronunciation is 
common in many parts of the United States. 

Huff (h-uf). Negro and illiterate white for hx)of 

Hum (h-em). Used by all classes to mean to succeed, to pi^osper; 
as, " He made the business hum." 

This meaning is doubtless derived from the idea of putting 
in rapid motion, as any object moving rapidly generally 
makes a humming noise, and as rapid progress is nearly al- 
ways a fundamental element of success. 

Human (hyuman). Illiterate white for human being. This class 
goes so far as to give the word a plural — humans. Bartlett 
says that this word is used in this sense also in the West, 
and sometimes even in the East. 

Hummer (h-ema). Used by all classes to mean something that 
possesses a great degree of excellence ; as, " That horse is a 
hummer" ; i.e. an extremely good one. 

Hurrah (h-Br-o). I once knew an old negro cook who always said 
hurrah for hurry or hurry up. She would tell her assistant 
to " hurrah now and less git thoo." I have since found out 
that this word is quite common both with negroes and illit- 
erate whites. 

Hurrus (h-er-es). Illiterate white for hearse. 

Hurted (herted). Used by illiterate whites for the past tense of 
to hurt; as, "I hurted myself." I think this form is found 
also in other states. 

Hurth (her|)). Illiterate white pronunciation of hearth. 


I. The letter i in the middle of such words as testify and am- 
plify is pronounced by all classes as (a) ; as, (cempldfai), etc. 
I and E. The sounds of these letters are confused by all classes 

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to a considerable extent, but, of course, to a larger degree by 
the uneducated ; as, pen for pin, or vice versa; trimhle for 
tremble; set for sit, or vice versa; etc. 

Idea (-aidia). This word has two or three different pronuncia- 
tions among the various classes of people. The educated 
people generally pronounce it with the accent on the first 
syllable. Negroes and illiterate whites say idy and idee 
(•aidi and aidi). 

Ijit (idoit). Negro for idiot. 

He (ail). Negro for oil 

Infair (infgr). Used by the illiterate whites of South Missis- 
sippi to mean a party or dance somewhat more elaborate 
than a shindig. It is not at all restricted to the meaning 
that Bartlett gives, although it does have that meaning. 

Injine (ind3-ain). This pronunciation of engine, although heard 
in other parts of the United States, is almost universal / 
among negroes and illiterate whites of Mississippi. It is 
especially common also in Kentucky. 

Inquiry (-inkwiri). Used by educated people for (inkwairi). 
Nearly everybody accents the word on the first syllable. 

Inshoance (injoens). A corruption of insurance. Used by negroes 
and illiterate whites to mean assurance in the sense of bold- 
ness, impudence. They would say : " He had the inshoance 
to ask me to give him my last dollar." 

Instid (inst-id). Negro and illiterate white for instead. 

Insult (ins "Bit). The word is pronounced with a very strong ac- 
cent on the second syllable, and is used quite frequently by 
negroes for consult; as, "I insulted him, and took his ad- 

Intrust (intr-Bs). Negro for interest. Dr. Brown says that, in 
Tennessee, this word is used for interest in the commercial 
sense, but that he does not know whether or not it is used 
in any other. I can say that, in Mississippi, it is used in 
every sense of interest. Negroes say : " When I makes a 
bargain, I always looks atter my own intrusts.''^ 

Is {\z). The verb to be is largely used, by negroes, in the place 
of the auxiliary to have; as, "He is got a store"; "I is had 
it." 7s is much more frequently used in this sense than any 
other form of the verb to be, and generally takes the place of 
has. Even when the subject is in the first person, the verb 
is generally put in the third. AinH is likewise used in the 
place of have not or has not. 

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Jack (d33ek). The word employed by the students of the Uni- 
versity of Mississippi for a translation of classical authors. 
This word is used to mean exactly what pony does at most 
other colleges. I know not why the pony has been changed 
to jcLck at this university, unless it may be that the beast, 
having been ridden so long and so constantly, has come to 
be unworthy of any name other than that of the patient, 
long-suffering donkey. 

From this word has been formed the verb to jack, used both 
transitively and intransitively. One boy is said to jack an- 
other in recitation or examination when he tells him the 
answer to any question. A student is said to jack when he 
looks on his book or copies from another student's work 
during recitation or examination. 

The noun jack is extended to mean illegal help of any kind 
on recitation or examination; e.g. an answer or solution to 
any kind of question is called a jack, if that answer be writ- 
ten down. 

Jell (d3el). A verb used by all classes to mean to become jellied, 
\ 'It is used also in South Carolina, Maine, New Hampshire, 
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and 
Tennessee. The meaning of this word can be readily under- 
stood from the following examples : " Apples jeU readily " ; 
" I have put the fruit on the fire, but it has not jelled yet." 

Jenny (d3eni). Used by all classes for jennet. I don't think I 
ever heard a dozen people say jennet. It is almost without 
exception Jenny, or, if not that, Jmny (d3ini). 

Jew (d3yu). Negro for dew. Jew is also used as a verb, and 
then means to make one lower the price of anything. The 
adverb dovm is nearly always put directly after jew when it 
is thus used. Examples of this use are : " I jewed him down 
from a dollar to fifty cents " ; " He tried ever so long, but he 
couldn't jew me down a cent." This verb is probably derived 
from Jew, meaning an Israelite, and has acquired its meaning 
from the well-known shrewdness of that nation in trading. 
This explanation coincides with that of the Century Diction- 
ary. Jew is also used for due by negroes. 
^ Jew-Larky (d3yfi l*arki). Sometimes used by negroes and illit- 
erate whites for sweet-heart This word is generally applied 

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to the female sex, but it sometimes has reference also to the 
I male. The word is used also in Kentucky. 

Jim-jams (d3im-d3*8emz). Bartlett says that this word is used 
for delirium tremens in Kentucky. It is the common name 
for that disease in Mississippi. 

Jim-swinger (d3im sw^qa). The common negro name for a Prince 
Albert coat. 

Jine (d3ain). Negro and illiterate white for join. Common 
throughout the South. 

Jinerwary (dsinaweri). Negro for January. 

Jodarter (d36d*at8). Negroes and illiterate whites frequently use 
this word to express something unsurpassed in its way ; as, 
"That man is a jodarter ^^ ; i.e. in some way he is unsurpass- 
able. A negro, speaking to me of a chill that, he had, said, 
" It sho was a jodarter ^^ meaning that it was one of the very 
worst kind. 

Joog (d3ug). Used by negroes and illiterate whites to mean to 
punch or poke ; as, " I jooged the hornet-nest with a pole." 

June (d3un). A word used by all classes to mean to get along^ to 
progress; as, "He made that horse June J' It also means to 
make a humming noise, as is made by a body moving or 
revolving swiftly ; and I am inclined to think that the mean- 
ing first mentioned is derived from this : a nail, when thrown 
through the air, is said to June. There is a certain kind of 
bugs called june-bv>gs, because they make a peculiar humming 
noise with their wings when they are tied with a string. 
These bugs form one of the favorite playthings of Mississippi 

Just (d3'Bst). The forms for this word (adv.) are so various that 
I have ventured to put the correct word first, and classify its 
mutilations under it. Jist, jest, des, jis, and jes (d3ist, d3est, 
des, d3is, d3es), are all used by negroes and illiterate whites 
for just. Des is used almost exclusively by negroes, while 
jes is sometimes heard in the conversation of educated peo- 
ple. The final t of just is very frequently omitted by all 
classes, so as to leave jus*. 


Kaze (k§z). Negro for because. 

Keer (kia). Illiterate white and negro for care. 

Kep (kep). Used to a large extent by all classes for kept. 

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Kerflummuz (kafl'Bra'Bks). Used by negroes and illiterate whites 
to mean to collapse, to be entirely overcome; as, "I sho was 
kerflummuxed when dat aig struck me," a colored speaker 
who has been rotten-egged, might say. This word, however, 
is not in very general use in Mississippi. Kerflummux is 
used in some parts of New England as an adverb ; as, to fall 
kerflummux. Bartlett gives the word flummux, which means 
"to give in, to give up, to die." 

Kerrige (kerid3). Negro for carncLge. 

Kilt (kilt). Negro for killed, the negroes in this instance using 
a pronunciation identical with the Irish. 

Kin (kin). Negro and illiterate white for can, used as a verb. 

Kinfolks (kinf6ks). Webster notes kinsfolk as obsolete, but 
neither he nor Bartlett gives kinfolks at all. Kinfolks is the 
common term for kindred (noun) used by all classes in 

Kinnery (kinari). Used by negroes and illiterate whites for the 
v^hole number of one's kindred or relations ; as, " I hates my 
kinnery, dey is all low down trash." Kinry is used in Lou- 
isiana with the same meaning. 

Kiver (kiva). Negro for cover. Used also in Tennessee. 

Knock down with a feather. An expression used by all classes 
with reference to a person completely overcome with sur- 
prise ; as, " When Jim came walking up there, you could have 
knocked me down with a feather, because I thought he had 
been dead for years." This expression, of course, refers to 
one's weakened physical conditicm when so surprised. 

Knowed (n6d). Negro and illiterate white for knew. 

Knows on (noz on). Illiterate white and negro for know of. 
They say : " Not as I knows on." 

Kotch (kotj). Negro for caught. Used over almost the whole 

Kritter (krita). Negro and illiterate white for creature, applied 
to four-footed animals of all kinds, but especially to horses. 
This word is used with the same meaning in many portions 
of the United States. 

Kunjerism (k-endSarism) . Negro for conjuration, meaning enchantr 

Kyore (kyoa). Negi*o and illiterate white for cure. 

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Lam (larn). Negro and illiterate white for learn. 

Lasses (lasses). Negro and illiterate white for molasses, 

Lawd (lod). Negro and illiterate white for lord. 

Lay off (1§ of). Means to intend; used by all classes; as, "I lay 
off to go away to-morrow." Bartlett gives lay out this mean- 
ing, but it is not so used in Mississippi, at least to any great 
extent. Lay off is used in Tennessee. 

Learn (lern). Largely used by all classes for teach. The word 
is given in Webster, but is marked " improper and inelegant." 

Lebenty-lebem (lebnti-lebm). Negro pronunciation for eleventy- 
eleven, an expression for an, indefinitely great number. 

Led (led). Negro for lid. Used also in Massachusetts. 

Let the old cat die. An expression used by all classes, meaning 
to let a swing come to rest of its own accord. Heard also in 
Massachusetts and in various other parts of the United States. 

Liberty (laiberi). Negro for libraiy. 

Lickerish (likarij). Negro and illiterate white for licorice. Used 
also in New England. 

Lickskillet (likskilit). Used by illiterate whites to mean a con- 
temptible or detestable person. 

Lie (lai). Very frequently confused with its causative lay by all 
classes of people. 

Light'ud (laitud). Used for light-wood by the negroes and illit- 
erate whites of the pine districts of Mississippi. 

Like to have done it. Used by educated classes to mean to have 
come very near doing it. Uneducated people say, " Like to 
done it." By these examples I mean to show that some of 
our best people use the perfect infinitive after like, and that 
the ignorant use the past participle. Any verb may be used 
as do is in the examples. 

Long-sweetening (lor|-switnir|). Bartlett says that this word for- 
merly meant mokbsses in New England. It is still used by the 
illiterate whites of Mississippi in this sense. To this day 
that class of people in this State ask their guest whether 
he will have long-sweetening or short-sweetening in his coffee ; 
i.e. will he take molasses or sugar. 

Long ways (log w^3). Long ways and short ways are used by all 
classes for long way and short way; for instance, they say: 
"Europe is a long ways from here." This use of ways is 

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probably derived from the adverbial use of the A.-S. weges, 
the genitive case of weg, Bartlett gives this expression as a 
very common vulgarism in the United States, but does not 
attempt to account for its origin. Somewheres and nowheres 
are like examples of the adverbial use of the A.-S. genitive. 

Lot (lot). This word is used to a considerable extent by all 
classes to mean stable-yard or horse-lot. If one is told that 
anything isj in; the lot, he is to understand that it is in the 
same enclosure as the stables. 

Lots (lotz). This word is used by all classes to mean a large 
number, a large quantity, greatly. Bartlett gives the word, 
but mentions only a large number as its meaning. In Missis- 
sippi we say : " Lots of men " ; " Lots of paper " ; and " I 
love him lots." 

Low (lau). For allow; used by negroes to mean say, think, or 
expect; as in "Dat's what I lowed"; i.e. "That is what I 
thought, said, or expected." This word is used also in Ken- 


Make one's self skase (sk§s). A^egro form of the phrase, make 
one's self scarce, given by Bartlett. It means to depart, to 
decamp, to get away. 

fifammy (maemi). A word used by negro children for mother. It 
is, of course, a corruption of mamma. Mammy is also used 
by white children when speaking of their old black nurses. 
Ma (ma) and maw (mo) are also frequently used for mother, 
the first generally by educated, the second by uneducated, 

Mar (ma). Negro and illiterate white for mare. 

Mare (maea). Negro for mayor. This is pronounced exactly as 
the correct pronunciation of mare, a female horse. 

Marm (marm). Illiterate white for madam; as, "Yes, marm, I 
' think so, marm." 

Mars (m§,s). Negro form for master. Marster (mS-ste) is also 
used with the same meaning. 

Massasip (maesasip). Sometimes used by negroes and illiterate 
whites for Mississippi. 

Mejure (medSe). Negro for measure. 

Melt (melt). The milt of hogs is always thus pronounced by all 
classes. Bartlett says that by the melt of a hog the mesen- 
tery is meant. 

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Menses (meuzez). Sometimes used by illiterate whites for men. 
An uneducated old white woman once invited a party of my 
friends to dinner by saying : " Menses, take a seat and have 
some of the fry." 

Meracle (merik-1). Negro and illiterate white for miracle. This 
pronunciation is also heard in Louisiana among settlers of 
English descent. Maracle (m§ark-l) is also sometimes used 
by the lower classes of Mississippi. 

Bfiddle of next week. This expression is used to some extent by 
all classes in such connection as the following: "If you 
don't let me alone, I'll knock you into the middle of next 

Bfiddling (midliq). In moderately good health, used mostly by 
negroes and illiterate whites. Tollible has about the same 
meaning and is a corruption of tolerable. The following 
dialogue may well be supposed to take place between two 
negroes inquiring about each other's health ; " How is yo'. 
Brer Jeems ? " — " Jist middling Brer Bill. How is you ? " 
— " I is tollible^ tank God, but my ole oman is poly.^' 

Bartlett says that middling, in this sense, is very common 
in the United States, and according to Brockett it is used 
also in the north of England. 

Ifiddling meat (midlii) mit). Bartlett says that this expression 
is common in the West for pork, and means the portion of 
the animal between its hams and shoulders. This is exactly 
the use of middling or middling meat in Mississippi. The 
meat is sometimes written after middling, sometimes not. 

Midget (mid3it). According to Bartlett this word is used in 
Canada to mean the sandrjiy. In Mississippi it means any- 
thing very small, and is, probably, merely an extension of the 
Canada meaning. In this State all classes speak of a small 
man, woman, horse, dog, or anything as being a perfect midget, 
or nothing but a midget. 

Bfighty (maiti). Very, exceedingly. This word is given by both 
Webster and Bartlett as colloquial in the United States. I 
mention it here because its use in this sense is so very 
common among all classes of Mississippians. 

Bfillineer (milinia). Illiterate white pronunciation of millionnaire. 

Million (milyun). Negro for Tnelon. 

Bfind (maind). This word is used by all classes to mean to object 
to; as, "I don't mind that"; i.e. "I have no objection to 

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that." This meaning of mind probably sp^nngs from its 
regular meaning to notice, as there is not a very broad gap 
between "I don't object to that" and "I don't notice that"; 
for a man certainly cannot object very strongly to anything 
that he thinks unworthy of his notice. 

Mirate (niair§t). This word is used by negroes to mean to wonder, 
and I suppose, is connected with admire, as it can very easily 
be derived from the same Latin primitive mirari. From this 
is derived the noun miration, which means wonderment, hustle, 
stir, commotion; as, "Dem niggers sho made a great miration 
'bout dat rock dat drapped out de sky." 

Misery (mizri). Negro for a pain or ache of any kind in any part 
of the body. Negroes say : " I've got a misery in my head, 
foot, tooth," etc. When, however, the word misery is used 
not followed by the name of any portion of the body, it refers 
to stomach-ajche. When suffering from this ailment, negroes 
commonly say : " I've got a misery," or by a strange transpo- 
sition, " I've got a pain across my misery, ^^ where misery means 

Miss (mis). Negro for mistress. They say "ole Miss" for "old 
mistress," " Miss Smith " for Mrs. Smith. 

Molly Har (moli ha). A hare. The word occurs in the following 
stanza of a well-known negro song : — 

" Ole Molly Har, what you doin' dar, 
Er rippin' thoo de cotton fieP as hard as you kin tar? " 

y^ Mouf (mauf). Negro for mouth. 

yVLoiight (maut). Negro for might (verb). Used also in Louisiana 
and Kentucky. 

Moughty (mauti). Illiterate white and negro for mighty, meaning 
very, excessively, exceedingly, 

Muel (myuel) . Frequently used by negroes for mule. 

Muffles (m-ef-lz). I have heard this word used only once, or, at 
least, by but one person. I knew a negro cook who used to 
call waffles, muffles. She seemed to have confused the words 
waffles and muffins, and in this way produced a hybrid — 

Muscumdime (muskamdaim). Negro for muscadine. 

Musmelon or Mushmelon (m-esmel-n or mejmel-n). The common 
names for the musk-melon. Mushmelon is used mostly by 
uneducated people. These pronunciations are heard in 
New York, New Jersey, and New England. 

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Mussy (ni-Bsi). Negro for mercy, Lawdy-muasy is a favorite ex- 
clamation among the negroes, and even to some extent among 
the whites. It, of course, means " Lord, have mercy ! " 


Nable (n§b-l). Negro and illiterate white for navet Heard also 
in Massachusetts. 

Nary (naeri). Used by negroes and illiterate whites for ne'er a; 
as, " I ain't seen nary man dis year," i.e. " I have seen ne'er 
a man." Nary is nearly always used by these classes of 
people instead of not a single, not any. Just as ary^ nary 
always follows a negative ; but, of course, the employment 
of a double negative is not unusual among the uneducated. 

Natcherly, (nsetjeli). Negro for naturally. 

Navigate (naiviggt). This word is used by negroes to mean to 
loiter, to linger around, to hang about ; as, " Dey was uavigatin' 
about hyar all summer." In this use of the word there is no 
reference whatever either to the sea or to ships. 

Needer (nida). Negro for neither, Nuther (n-etSa) is another 
form very largely used by negroes for neither, Nuther is 
generally employed at the end of sentences in constructions 
like the following : " No, I didn't do it nuther " ; " An' I ain't 
goin' nuther " ; etc. 

Nigger (niga). The common pronunciation of negro by all classes 
of people. Nigra is sometimes used by educated people. 

Nigh (nai). This word, although almost archaic in modern book- 
English, is still in very general use among the lower classes 
of Mississippi. 

Nigh onto death. Illiterate white for very near to death; as, 
" Nancy had the colic nigh onto death last week." 

Noggin (nogin). Very frequently used by illiterate whites for head; 
i.e. the head of an animal. English settlers in Louisiana use 
it as a semi-slang term. 

Norate (nSret). To make widely known, to spread abroad, as of a 
rumor or report. In this sense it is used by educated people 
as well as by illiterate. 

Not much shakes (J^kz). Used by illiterate whites to mean of no 
great worth or value. When wishing to disparage any man, 
they say : " He ain't much shakes nohow." Bartlett gives a 
parallel expression, no great shakes, which he says is common 
in England as well as in the United States. 

Nuffin (nrfn). Negro for nothing. 

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(o). The pronunciation of this letter, short o, as aw, is very 
common in a large number of words, and is used by all 
classes. Coffee is pronounced (cofi); offlce, (ofis); log, (log); 
dog, (dog); etc. 

Of ('Bv). Illiterate whites almost always use this preposition 
before the past participle when forming a part of the com- 
plete past of a verb, in the antecedent clause of a conditional 
sentence. They say: "Ef I had of known"; "Ef he had 
of died"; "Ef they had of thought." This 0/ sound is 
not a contraction of the well-known barbarism Jiad have died, 
thought, known, etc. ; for in three written exercises handed 
in to me by students of the University of Mississippi, at one 
time, the 0/ occurs spelled out, as given above. 

Qffen (ofn). Negro and illiterate white for off of, exactly analo- 
gous to ovien for out of. Offen is used also in Vermont. 

01. This diphthong is pronounced by negroes as long i (ai), in 
(jaist) for joist, (haist) for hoist, (spail) for ^oil, (bail) for 
boil. However, in voice and moist and some other words, it 
is given the correct pronunciation. 

Ole *oman (61 um-n). A common name for wife, among illiterate 
whites and negroes. 
>Onery (onori). Used to some extent by all classes to mean ex- 
tremely ordinary, poor, mean. Used also in Kentucky, Middle 
States, and New England. 

Onliest (6nliest). Superlative of only, used mostly by negroes. 
Heard also among the ignorant classes in Louisiana. 

Only (6nli), Some well-educated people make a point of pro- 
nouncing this word with short o (onli). 

Ort (ort). Illiterate white for ought. 

Ouch (autj). An exclamation denoting pain, used by all classes. 
Heard also in New England. 

Outen (autn) . Negro and illiterate white for ou^ of. 

Overhet (ovehiet). Negro for overheated; as, "De sun was so 
hot yistiddy dat I got overhet." This word is common in 
the Northern and Eastern States and in Louisiana. 

Owdacious (aud^Jas). Negro and illiterate white pronunciation 
of audacious. 

Oxen (oksn). This form is largely used, even by educated peo- 
ple, for ox; i.e. a single one. 

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Pack (paek). Used to some extent by all classes to mean to carnh y 
Heard also in Kentucky, Louisiana, Idaho, Montana, and 
Washington State. 

Pant (paent). An abbreviation of pantaloons, used by clerks in 
dry-goods stores. They say : " I have a pant that I can sell 
you," etc. Of course, pants is a well-known abbreviation, 
but I think pant is rather a new word. 

Pappy (paepi). A term used by negro children for father. It is, 
of course, a corruption of papa, 

Pason (paesn). Used to some extent by illiterate whites for 

Passle (psesl). Used to some extent by all classes, but princi- 
pally by the uneducated, to mean a parcel, not in the sense 
of a small bundle or a small quantity, but in that of a consid- 
erable number ; as, " There was a whole passle of hogs in the 
yard"; i.e. there were a good many. The word has, per-^ 
haps, a somewhat larger meaning than a good many, but 
denotes less than a multitude. This word is used in Ken- 
tucky, but is becoming rare there. 

Pastur (pasta). Illiterate white for pasture, 

Patridge (paetrids). A pronunciation of partridge common among 
negroes and illiterate whites. Dr. Brown notices pdturge 
with metathesis. I think the pronunciation in Mississippi is 
rather as given above. 

Patter-rollers (pseta-rdlaz). Negro for pairoZs. 

Peckerwood. Woodpecker, Bai-tlett says that this word is West- 
ern. It is also heard very frequently in Mississippi, as in 

Peerch (pert J). Negro and illiterate white for perch, meaning a 
certain kind of fish. This forms an exact parallel to the use 
of peert for pert, which is common in almost all parts of the 
United States. 

Per. The syllable pro, when the first in a word, is generally pro- 
nounced by negroes and illiterate whites as per (pe); e.g. 
perfess, perfessor, perduce, perpose, pemounce, 

Perrairies (par-^riz). Illiterate white tor prairies. 

Peruse (par-uz). Used by negroes to mean to wander about; as, 
" Yistiddy I was perusin' around in de woods." Peruse and 
hruze seem to mean about the same thing. I can't find any 
difference in their use. 

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Peter out (pita aut). To fail, to give out; used by all classes. 
Bartlett says that it is common in the Northern States as 

Piddle (pidl). This word is marked in Webster as obsolete, and 
is said to be a different spelling of peddle, or from the same 
source, and to mean to trifle, or deal in trifles. It is still 
largely used in this sense by negroes and illiterate whites in 

Pinder (pinda). The common name for peanut in the southern 
and central portions of the State. The Century Dictionary 
says that pinder is of African origin. 

Pint (paint). Negro and illiterate white fov point. 

Pizin (paizn). Negro for poison. This word is heard also in 
New England and Kentucky, but is becoming rare in those 
places. In the negro dialect of Mississippi it still holds un- 
disputed sway. 

Pleg (pleg). Common pronunciation of plague, especially in the 
expression, " Pleg take it ! " a euphemistic form of swearing. 
The same pronunciation is used in Tennessee. 

Po' (p6). Negro for poor. 

Poke (p6k). This word is used by all classes to mean a slow 
person, and has its corresponding adjective poky. It is prob- 
ably derived from the verb to poke, as meaning to feel or 
push one's way slowly. One who moves in this way is con- 
sequently called a poke or a sloviypoke. Poky and slowpoke 
are heard in New England. 

Poly (p61i). Negro for poorly, used to mean in a bad state of 
health. A negro, when asked about his health, if not well, 
will answer, " Poly, poly, bress God ! " 

Pone (p5n). Used by all classes for a certain kind of corn-bread 
made with only water, meal, and salt. The word pone fre- 
quently has a more extended meaning than this, and is used 
for a loaf of any kind of bread. 

Pooty (puti). Negro and illiterate white for pretty. 

Pore (p6a). Illiterate white for j^oor. This pronunciation, how- 
ever, is used over almost the entire United States. 

Po' skuse for (p6 skyus fi?). A negro phrase meaning a poor sub- 
stitute for or example of; as, " He is a mighty po' skuse for a 
man " ; i.e. as a man, he is almost worthless. 

'Possum (pos-m). A common contraction of opossum, used by all 
classes. This word is also used as a verb to signify to feign, 

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or counterfeit, probably from the opossum's habit of feigning 
death when any danger appears. Bartlett gives substantially 
this explanation. 

Powerful (pauaful). The use of this word as an adverb meaning 
very, exceedingly, is pronounced vulgar by Webster ; never- 
theless it is used in Mississippi, with this sense, by a large 
number of well-educated people, I think, principally, by im- 
migrants from South Carolina. 

Po' white trash. The common name given by the negro to poor 
white people, whom he holds in utter scorn and detestation. 
Members of the colored ra(;e have frequently said to me : 
" Dem po' white trash don't know how to treat we niggers, 
and we all hates 'em like snakes." 

Prar (praa). Illiterate white and negro pronunciation of prayer, 

Presenty (presnti). Common negro word iov presently. 

Projicking (prod3ikin). A word used by negroes and illiterate 
whites to mean fooling^ trifling; as, "If you don't stop your 
projickin' with me, I'll lick you." 

Purchase (pertjis). This word, in the sense of mechanical hold 
or power, is used somewhat peculiarly by the illiterate 
whites of Mississippi ; for instance, if any one be paralyzed 
so as not to manage himself with ease, they say, " He hasn't 
got the proper purchase of himself." 

Pursly or Pussly (persli or p-esli). The common names for purs- 
lane. The Century Dictionary gives both of these words as 
vulgar, and as used in various parts of the Union. 

Put down (put daun). Used by all classes to mean to consider; 
as, "I put Mm down for [or as] a fool." 


Quare (kwaer). Illiterate white for queer. This is exactly the 
same pronunciation as is used by the Irish. 

Quarter (kwS-ta). This word, when used by itself, is generally 
understood, throughout the United States, to refer to a quar- 
ter of a dollar. The illiterate whites of Mississippi, how- 
ever, use it to mean a quarter of a mile. They very rarely, 
indeed, say a quarter of a mile, but nearly always simply a 
quarter. They seem to think it necessary to say half of a 
mile, eighth of a mile, etc., but rarely ever quarter of a 

Quicked up (kwikt Bp). I once heard an illiterate white inhabi- 

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tant of Lafayette County use this expression for svdden, has- 
tened. He said, "You know his leaving was a quieked-up 
Quirl (kwerl). This word is largely used by negroes, and to 
some extent by white people, for curl It is also thus used 
in New England. In Mississippi a snake is nearly always 
said to be quirled or quoiled up, instead of curled or coiled up. 
Quiled (kwaild) up is sometimes used by negroes. 


R. The pronunciation of the letter r is almost totally omitted 
in the middle of the word by all classes in Mississippi ; e.g. 
(moniq) for morning; (oda) for order; (m6n) for mourn.. 
Final r is also frequently unpronounced ; as, (d6) for door; 
(flo) iov floor; (mo) for more. Illiterate whites pronounce 
the r more distinctly than any other class, and negroes less 

Rap-jacket (raep-dSaekit). A term used by all classes to mean a 
game of whipping, in which two boys are given switches, 
and whip each other with all of their might until one says 
"enough." They both thus have their jackets thoroughly 
rapped, if they happen to have on those garments. Two 
boys who have been fighting at school are very frequently 
punished by the teacher's making them play rap-jacket until 
he tells them to stop. 

Rassle (rsesl). Negro and illiterate white for wrestle. This pro- 
nunciation of wrestle is, of course, a relic of wrastle, common 
in the fourteenth century. This is heard in New England, 
Canada, North Ireland, and Tennessee. 

Razee (raeS'i). This word, in Mississippi, used occasionally by 
all classes, means to "Jew down " in a trade. A man is said 
to razee a merchant when he makes him lower his price by 

Razoo (raeS'u). This word is common among negroes, and means 
to totally disable; but its origin is uncertain. By many 
negroes a razor is called a razoo, and this forms the favorite 
weapon of the colored man, so that this verb may have 
originally meant to cut with a razor ; or, on the other hand, 
it may be connected with the well-known word razee. 

Real down (ril daun). Used by cultivated whites to mean exceed- 
' ingly or extremely. A thing that is extremely nice is said to 
be real down nice. 

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Reckon (rekn). This word is almost always used in the ordi- 
nary conversation of our best educated people for think or 
suppose, and corresponds to a like use of giiess in the 
Northern States. 

Reddish (redij). This pronunciation of radish is practically uni- 
versal among the uneducated classes, and is frequently heard 
in the conversation of the more cultivated. 

Red-neck (red-nek). A name applied by the better class of 
people to the poorer inhabitants of the rural districts. The 
word explains itself : men who work in the field, as a matter 
of course, generally have their skin burned red by the sun, 
and especially is this true of the back of their necks. 

RickolUction (rikal-ikj-n). Illiterate white for recollectioriy used to 
mean memory. An old backwoodsman once said to me of a 
certain public man : "He hjis the most wonderful rickolUc- 
tion for remembering names that I ever hearn tell of." 

Rid (rid). Negro for rode. This form has not very long been 
obsolete, and is derived from the old plural form of the past, 
or from the past participle. 

Right (rait). Webster gives this word as meaning actually, 
realty, trvly ; but in such expressions as right good, right 
large, it is used by Mississippians to mean moderately. This 
use is very frequent in the conversation of all classes of 

Right smart (rait smat). Bartlett notices this as common in the 
South with the meaning of a good deal, a considerable quan- 
tity or number. In Mississippi it also means worthy of con- 
sideration; as, " He is right smaH of a man" ; i.e. a man who 
possesses considerable excellence in some line. The expres- 
sion frequently occurs in right smaH chance, right smart 
sprinkle, as noted by Bartlett. 

Rip and rare (rip sen rser). This term is used by all classes of 
Mississippians as meaning to create a violent disturbance, 
especially by swearing and cursing. Rar (raa) is sometimes 
heard for rare among the negroes. 

Riz (riz). Negro for rose, the past tense of rise. The form riz 
seems to be derived from the past participle risen, or the old 
past plural rison, most probably from the former. Used also 
in New England and Louisiana. 

Rookus (rukas). A word signifying a quarrel or row. UsedY/ 
principally by negroes and illiterate whites, ami occurring 

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most frequently in the southern central part of the State. 
Also heard in Kentucky. 

Rozzum (roz-m or roz-m). Negro for rosin. Used also in Ten- 

Rue back (ru bsek). Used by all classes to mean to back ovt of a 
trade, to trade hack. When a man is not satisfied with a 
purchase, but returns it and gets his money back, he is said 
to rue back. Rue back applies also to a swap or any kind of 
a trade. Used also in Tennessee. 

Rumatiz (rumatiz). Negro and illiterate white for rheumatism. 
T think that this word is largely used outside of Mississippi. 


Sability (s§b-ilitiy). Used by negroes to mean character, standing; 
as, " I didn't think a gemman of your sability would do dat." 

Saddy (sseddi). Illiterate white and negro for Saturday. 

Sagashuate (sSg*aeJyu§t). This word is used by negroes in the 
sentence : " How does your corporosity seem to sagashuate ? " 
and is a common way of inquiring after anybody's health. 
Corporosity seems to refer to bodily condition, and I suppose 
is connected with the Latin coipus. Sagashuate, as far as I 
know, is not used outside of this or similar expressions, and 
here it would seem to mean to thrive or prosper. 

Sager (sM38). Illiterate white for backwoodsman, rustic. It is 
probably derived from sedge (pronounced s^d3), and refers to 
one coming from a sedge-grass region, i.e. from the country. 
Its use is confined almost exclusively to South Mississippi. 

Sah (sa). Negro for sir. 

Sarch (saatj). Negro and illiterate white for search. 

Sarmint (saamint). Illiterate white for sermon. Negroes gener- 
ally say sarmun (sarm-n). 

Sartin (saatn). Negro for certain. This pronunciation is also 
used to some extent by the illiterate whites of Mississippi, as 
by those of almost every other part of the United States. 

Sarvant (saavnt). Negro for servant. 

Sarve (saav). Negro for serve. 

Sass (sses). Negro and illiterate white for sauce, meaning im- 
pertinence, impudence; and sauce itself Halliwell marks as 
low and vulgar. It comes, I presume, from saucy. 

Sassy (ssesi). Negro and illiterate white for saucy. 

Scaly-bark (skSli-bark). A name applied by all classes to a 

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species of hickory tree, as well as to the nuts that grow 
thereon. In other parts of the United States the terms shell- 
bark or shag-bark are used. 
Scare (skea) . This pronunciation of scare is used by negroes and 
illiterate whites, and even by educated people sometimes. 
Skered is the ordinary past tense of this word, but negroes 
sometimes say sked. 

Scasely (skSsli). Negro for scarcely. In "Dialect Notes," Pro- 
fessor Hart says of this : " Usually regarded as an American- 
ism. But cf. nhey themselves could skaselye enter with- 
out iepardie/ More's ^ Utopia,' translated by Ralph Robin- 
son, p. 73, Arber's Reprint." 

School-butter (skul-beta). This word, when yelled out by one y 
school-boy to another, is regarded as the direst insult and a^V 
calling for immediate fight. Used also in Kentucky. 

Scussion (sk-ef-n). Negro for excursion. 

Sech (set J). Negro for stich. Precisely the same pronunciation 
is sometimes used by negroes for search. 

Seed (sid). Negro and illiterate white for saw. 

Seeker (sika). This word is used without modifiers of any sort 
to mean a penitent, one who is sorry for sin and desires to 
become religious. This specific meaning is, of course, easily 
traceable from the general meaning of the word, as a penitent 
is indeed a seeker, and has the right to be called pre-eminently 
the seeker; for he seeks after the most important of all things. 

Seen (sin). Used for saw by negroes and illitemte whites, form- 
ing another instance of the confusion of the past tense 
and past participle. The verb see is strangely distorted 
by the uneducated of Mississippi ; they use seen and seed for 
saw; seed for seen; saw for seen; and, sometimes, see for saw, 

Seppin (sepn). Negro for except This word occurs often in the 
phrase, seppin I slip, which means unless I fail or make a 
mistake. A negro would say : " 1*11 git my cotton hoed over 
by Saddy, seppin I slip." Of course, this may be a form of 

Shank of the evening. Used principally by negroes, meaning near 
the end of the evening. The Century Dictionary quotes this 
expression from "Uncle Remus's" stories, and says that 
shank means the end or close of anything. 

Sheep-sorrel. This plant has many names in Mississippi, all of 
which are very common. It is called sheep-shaw (fip-Jo), 

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sheep-shire (fip-Jaie), sheep-sheer (Jip-Jia), sheep-shy (Jip-Jai) ; 
but the correct name, sheep-sorrel, is rarely heard. 

Shet (Jet) . Negro for shut. 

Shindig (fiudig). This word is used by illiterate whites, and 
means a country dance or party. Bartlett says that in the 
South it means " a blow on the shins," and in the West, " a 
dance of any kind." I have never heard it used in Missis- 
sippi to mean a blow on the shins, and that is certainly not 
the common meaning here. 

This name for a dance could easily be derived from the 
motion of the legs in performing some dances ; the dancers 
seem to be literally digging into the floor with their shins. 
This, however, is merely conjectural. 

Sho (f6). The common negro pronunciation for sure. Sholy is 
likewise used for surely. Sho is sometimes used for surely. 
Shore for sure is also common here, as in Louisiana. 

Sho as a cow. An expression used by illiterate whites to mean 
perfectly certain^ absolutely sure. I cannot account for this 
phrase, as I know of no impression prevalent that a cow is 
any more sure than any other animal. Sho as you are bom, 
Sho a« you are an inch [or foot'] high, Sho as I am alive, are 
expressions with substantially the same meaning. 

Sho nuff (f6 n-Bf). Negro for sure enough, meaning real; as, "Dat 
was sutenly a sho nuffghos' I seed last night." 

Shoot craps (Jftt kraeps). The term used by negroes for the play- 
ing of a certain game of dice. This craps, however, I think 
has no connection with the negro word crap for crop. 

Shucks (jBks). An exclamation indicative of scorn or contempt. 
As the husks of corn are the most worthless part, the saying 
arose, " That is not worth shucks " ; i.e. not worth anything. 
The single word shucks has now come to mean that the 
speaker's opinion of what has been said is that it is 
worthless or improbable. This word is used by all classes. 
Shukins (jBkins) is a form of this word frequently met 

Shuk (/Bk). Negro for shook. 

Shuw (J-b). An exclamation commonly used for pshaw by all 

Sistem (sistar-n). Negro for sisters (in a church), formed upon 
analogy with brethren. 

Sit (sit). Often confounded with its causative, set, by even the 

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best educated people. Sit is also very frequently used for 
sat by all classes ; set is also used for sat. 

Skeet (skit). Illiterate whites use this word to mean to move 
swiftly, to flee, to run, and also to skate ; and from this last it 
is probably derived. Skeet is probably merely another form 
for skite, given by Bartlett as meaning to go about; however, 
I have never heard skite used in Mississippi. 

Skeeter (skit9). Negro for mosquito. 

Sketch over (sketf ova). Illiterate white for glance over. They 
sketch over a newspaper before reading it closely. 

Skuze (skyuz). Negro for excuse and accuse; as, ^'Skuse me for 
hittin' you, but you skvsed me of lyin'." 

Skwel (skwel). Negro pronunciation of squirrel. I have known 
one or two veiy well educated immigrants from Virginia who 
used exactly this pronunciation. 

Slab-sided (slaeb-saided). Bartlett gives this word as meaning 
having perpendicular sides, wall-sided; but in Mississippi it 
is used by all classes to mean crooked, cranky. He is a slab- 
sided man, means that mentally, morally, or physically he is 
not as he should be, he is deficient in some way — he is not 
straight. This meaning may have come to this word from 
its having been confused with crank-sided. 

Slick (slik). Used by all classes for sleek, and identical with the 
Old English slick. It is used by English settlers in Louis- 
iana, and is heard also in New England. 

Slicker (slika). The common name for a certain kind of water- 
proof garment. It is also frequently used in the Rocky 
Mountain country. 

Sling-shot (sliij-fot). A name in general use for an apparatus, 
generally called catapult, made of a wooden or iron staff, two 
bands of India-rubber, and a piece of leather, so connected 
as to be able to throw shot or pebbles to a considerable dis- 
tance. Other names for this contrivance are nigger-shooter 
and pea-shooter : the first referring to the object shot at, and 
the second to the object hurled from the sling. 

Slish (slaij). Quite a common pronunciation of slice by negroes 
and illiterate whites. 

Smack (smaek). Used by all classes to mean entirely, exactly, or 
precisely; e.g. "He knocked him smack down," "He hit me 
smack in the face," " I ran smack up against it." 

Smidget (smid3it). Used by negroes to mean a small part or 

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portion of anything ; as, " I just got a amidget of supper " ; 
"I want a smidget of com." This is probably allied to 

Smoove (smuv). Negro for smoothe. 

Snake-doctor. The ordinary Mississippi name for the dragon- 
fly. Bartlett gives this as the common Southwestern name 
for dragon-fly. The two bumps sometimes seen on the 
snake-doctor, just behind his wings, are called his saddle- 
bags, and in them he is reputed to carry medicine for the 

Snooks (snuks). This word is used by all classes to mean eqticU 
shares. Men go snooks with a certain amount of valuables 
when they divide them equally. Bartlett gives this word, 
spelled snucks, but meaning the same thing. He does not 
say how the word is pronounced, but the logical inference is 
that the u is pronounced as in shucks; whereas the oo in 
snooks is pronounced as oo in took. 

This doubtless originated from snacks, meaning equal 
shares, as to go snacksy in the time of Pope, meant exactly 
what to go snooks means now. In Pope's poem about the 
bores that trouble him at Twickenham, occurs the following 
line: — 

"At last he whispers, 'Do/ and we go snacks." 

Snoot (snut). Negro and illiterate white for snout This occurs 
also in New York City and Philadelphia, and very fre- 
quently is used to mean nose. 

The Germans of Pennsylvania use this word to mean not 
only nose, but even fiice, sometimes calling a barber a snoot- 

So long (sSloq). Used by all classes as a form of leave-taking. 
Century Dictionary says that it is probably a sailor's corrup- 
tion of salaam. 

Sont (sont). Negro for sent. 

Sooey (su-i). The sound used to drive hogs out of one's way. 
Probably from sowey (sau-i), after the analogy of scat 
(skset), the well-known word used to drive cats away. 

Soople (sup-1). Used for supple, principally by negroes and illit- 
erate whites, but sometimes by educated people. It is used 
also in Louisiana and New England, and by uneducated 
people in the North of Ireland. 

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Sop (sop). Illiterate white for molasseSy gravy y or anything in 
which bread is sopped. This class of people in Mississippi 
have changed the meaning of sop from the piece of bread to 
that in which the bread is dipped. 

Sorter (sota). Largely used by all classes. It is a corruption of 
sort of, and means to some extent, moderately; as, sorter good, 
sorter had — moderately good or bad. Kinder (kainda), for 
kind of, has about the same meaning, but is not so commonly 
used. Sorter and kinder are used in many other parts of the 
United States. 

Sot (sot). Negro for set or sat. According to Bartlett, this pro- 
nunciation is common among the illiterate of other States 

Soxdologer (soksdolad39) . A friend of mine, who is a minister, 
informs me that he has heard illiterate whites use this word 
for doxology, * 

Sparking (sparking). Courting. Bartlett says that this word is 
very common in the Northern States. And it is possible 
that the Mississippians may have taken it from Northern 

Sparrow-grass (spsera-grass). Negro for a^aragus. According 
to Bartlett, used both in England and America. 

Speck (spec). Used by negroes for both expect and suspect. 

Speerit (spirit). Illiterate white for spiiit. They say also 
speeritual for spiritual. 

Spell (spel). By negroes and some white people this word is 
used to mean to signify, to amount to; as in "What does 
that spell f^^ by which they mean, "What does that amount 

Sperrit (sperit). Negro for spirit. Negroes rarely ever say . 
speerit, although illiterate whites use both sperHt and speerit. 
Sperrit is heard also in Louisiana and New England. 

Speunce (spiuns). Negro for experience, both the noun and the 
verb. The past tense of the verb is speunced. 

Sprankle (sprserjkl). I once heard an uneducated white man use 
this for sprinkle. 

Spurrer (spijra) . Illiterate white for spurt. They say, " Cotton 
has taken a spurrer in price " ; i.e. a sudden rise. 

Squinch-owl (skwintj-aul). Negro for screech-owl. 

Stairs (stseoz). Illiterate whites frequently thus pronounce stars. 

Stakes (st^ks). In playing ring-men, a player is said to have 

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stakes when he has knocked three marbles out of the 

Step off (step of). Used by all classes for marry; as, " I think 
he will step off next fall." This may probably come under 
the head of slang. « 

Stob (stob). Negro pronunciation of the verb stab. As a noun, 
identically the same word is used, both in Tennessee and 
Mississippi, to mean a stake driven in the ground or the tall 
stump of a tree. 

Stocky (stoki). Used by all classes, to some extent, to mean firm 
or stout, A low, chunky man is said to be stocky. 

Stomp (stomp). Bartlett says that this pronunciation is almost 
universal in the United States : it certainly is in Mississippi, 
even among the best-educated people. Used also very fre- 
quently in Louisiana. 

'Stracted (strsekted). A contraction for distracted, much used by 
the negroes to mean crazy; as, " Dis hade-ache is mos' run 
me ^ strojCted,^^ 

Straight-up-and-dicular. Sometimes used by negroes and illiterate 
whites to mean perpendicular. 

Straightway. Used by illiterate whites as equivalent to in a 
straight line. It plays a large part in back-country argu- 
ments on baptism, on account of its use in the Bible in the 
following sentence : " And came up straightway from the 
water." These uneducated people construe the sentence as 
meaning that the biblical characters were down in the water 
and came up out of it in a straight line. 

\ Stumps (stBmps). The phrase in a bad row of [or for"] stumps, 
k meaning in an unfortunate plight, is used by all classes. It 
is probably derived from ploughing in new ground, where 
stumps are sometimes very troublesome. Used also in Ken- 

'Sturb (steb). Negro for disturb. This is an example of a large 
number of verbs that have the first syllable left off by the 
negroes of Mississippi. 

Such of a thing. This expression is used by all classes nearly 
always in the sentence : " It is no such of a thing " ; i.e. it 
is not true. As s'nch means of that kind, the of between such 
and thing may be introduced from the idea expressed in say- 
ing, it is not that kind of [a] thing, or not a thing of that 

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Sugar-game. Used in Kentucky to mean the deciding game in 
playing marbles. In Mississippi its application is muchV 
more general. It means the deciding game in almost any 
sport, as base-ball, tennis, cards, checkers, chess, etc. 

Summons. Used as a verb even by educated people; as, "He 
was summonsed before the court." 

Sumpen (s-empn). Used by all classes, to a very large extent, for 

Sumpener (s-emp-ntj). Negro and illiterate white for something or 

Suspicion. To suspect. Used by whites, educated and unedu- 
cated, to a considerable extent. Negroes say ^spicion (spij-n). 
Bartlett says that this use of suspicion is common in the 
South. It is used also in the West. 

Sut (s-Bt). The ordinary pronunciation of soot. This is heard 
also in South Carolina and Tennessee. 

Suvigrous (savaigras). A negro word meaning fierce, savage; 
sometimes shortened to vigrous (vaigras), or vigous (vaigas). 

Swanny (swani). Illiterate white euphemism for swear. Bart- 
lett says I swan is used as a euphemism in New England for 
/ swear. The form I swanny is not used for I swear in the 
regular construction, " I swear that this is true " ; but only 
as an expletive in such sentences as, "I swanny! if that 

ain't so ! " 


Tacky (tseki). Used by all classes for unfashionable or untidy. 
It has a corresponding substantive tack, which means an un- 
fashionable or untidy person. 

The word tacky is not at all confined to Mississippi, but is 
heard in almost every part of the Union. I think tack is not 
used so largely. , 

Tailer (t^la). Dr. Brown says, that in Tennessee, a boy is said 
to tailer another when the first wins seven games of marbles 
to the second's none. The word for this in Mississippi is tail 
(t^l), a shortened form, I suppose, for tailer. A curious 
coincidence is the employment by Germans of Schneider in 
exactly the same sense. 

Take a drink. This is expressed in various interesting and amus- 
ing ways, some of which are the following: to smile; to 
lubricate; to brace up; to bolster up; to swallow; to wet 
one's whistle. This last, Webster marks as colloquial. It is 

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used, I think, in all parts of the United States, and probably 
in England. 

Take in. Universally employed for hegiyi in reference to schools, 
and sometimes, in reference to church. In Charleston, S.C., 
take in means to begin, and take out, to end, when school or 
church is spoken of. In Mississippi, twm out is used for this 
take out. 

Taken. An instance of the past participle used for the past tense 

Tar (ta). Negro for tear (verb). 

Tarrier (tseri-a). Negro for terrier. 

Tarrify (tserifai). Negro for terrify. 

Tarrypin (tseripin). Negro for terrapin. 

Tatars or Tates (t§tas or t^ts). The common names for potatoes, 
used by negroes and illiterate whites. 

Taussle (tosl). The ordinary pronunciation of tassel. Heard also 
in Louisiana. Tossel (tosl) is used in New England. 

Ter (t-e). Negro for the other. 

Terreckly (tor-ekli). Negro for directly. 
^Tetchous (tetjas). Common among negroes and illiterate whites 
for tetchy. Used also in Kentucky. 

Th. Th is in a large number of instances pronounced by negroes 
as d; as, dis, dat, dese, dose, dere, den, de, dan, deir for 
this, that, these, those, there, then, the, than, their. It seems 
that th has this pronunciation when it should have its soft, 
flat, or vocal sound (t5). 

When th (f) has the sharp or whispered sound, it is quite 
frequently pronounced as t; as, tought for thought; tink for 
think; tousand for thousand; troo for through. This th (|>), 
however, is not by any means always pronounced as « ; as the 
negroes pronounce it correctly in thrash, thrush, thumb, 
thunder, and in a large number of other words. 

When th (|)) is final, it is generally given the sound of/; 
as, toofioT tooth; brefioT breath; trufiov truth. When th (tS) 
is final, it has the sound of v; as, breave for breathe; smoove 
for smooth. 

That's accordin'. Used by negroes and illiterate whites to mean 
th^U depends, and is probably an abbreviation of " that is ac- 
cording to how you look at it " ; as, " Is that a good horse ? " 
— " Well, that's accordin' " ; i.e. that depends upon what you 
mean by a good horse. The phrase would imply that the 

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horse is not good in every respect; from some standpoints he 
is good, while from others he is not. 

Theologer (fiSlogo). Illiterate white for theologian. 

There (8§r). Thar, dar, and dere are used for there, Thar is 
used mostly by illiterate whites ; dar and dere, by negroes. 

Thing-em-a-doodle (J)*§r)-8-m8-d-iidl). Used by all classes for the 
name of anything that cannot be readily recalled. In Ken- 
tucky are used thing-um-Orbob, thing-em-Ordudgeon, thing-doodle. 
In New England, thingembob, thingamy, thingemajig, and in 
Massachusetts also thigamy, occur. Thingemajig and thinge- 
madoo are sometimes heard in Mississippi. 

This er way and That er way (tSis 9 w§ and 6aet a w%). The phrases 
in this form are used by a large number of well-educated 
people. They are, of course, shortened forms of this here way 
and that there way. The hei*e and there are added, I suppose, 
for emphasis. The forms of these two phrases are various 
among the other classes of society ; illiterate whites say, 
"this ere way," "this air way," "that ere way," "that air 
way." Negroes say " dis ar way," " dat ar way." Negroes 
and illiterate whites use almost any substantive after these 
corruptions of here and there with this and iha,t; while the 
educated classes rarely use any word except way in this con- 

Bartlett says that this here and that there is a common 
vulgarism in the United States and that this yere is the 
ordinary pronunciation in the South. The pronunciation 
this yere is heard frequently in Mississippi. 

Thoo (fti). Negro for through. 

Thote (f5t). Negro for throat. 

Thout (tSaut). Negro for without. 

Thow (|>6). Negro for throw. The past tense of this verb in / 
negro parlance is thowed (fod). These words are used also 
in Kentucky. 

Thrash (IrseJ). This pronunciation is used by all classes both 
when speaking of threshing grain and of whipping anything. 
It is also thus used in western New York. In England and 
New England, thrash means to whip ; thresh, to thresh grain. 

Thunk (l^-Brik). Negro for thought This past is formed upon 
analogy with such words as sink, slink, etc. 

Thurst (|)erst). Used by some illiterate whites for thrust. 

Tief (tif). Negro for thief. 

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Til (til). Negro for to, used with reference to place. In this 
we may have the survival of Old English til. Til or till has 
another peculiar use in the negro dialect in sentences like 
the following, where it is used in the place of that: "It hurt 
me so till I cried." I think that this use of tUl has sprung 
from the confusion of two constructions : " It hurt me so 
that I cried," and " It hurt me until [or till] I cried," where 
till or until is employed to denote consequence or result. 

Time to hang up. Used by all classes for time to quit work. Its 
origin seems somewhat doubtful. Bartlett gives the phrase, 
" to hang up one's fiddle," and quotes from " The Sayings of 
Sam Slick": "When a man loses his temper and ain't cool, 
he might as well hang up his fiddle.^' Time to hang up may, 
of course, be connected with what has just been quoted, or it 
may be derived from the custom of hanging up one's tools 
when work is stopped. 

Tiptoe-heading (tipt6-hedir)). Used by the negroes of the Missis- 
sippi bottom to mean, in an over-bearing way; as, "Don't 
you come a tiptoe-heading towards me." 

Toch (tot J). Negro for touch, Tech (tetj) is also used for tov^ih 
by negroes. Toch sometimes forms a regular past tense, 
toched, and sometimes is itself used as past. 

To death. This phrase is largely used by all classes to mean 
excessively, eocceedingly ; as, "I am tired to death"; "I nearly 
laughed myself to death." 

Tominated (tomin^ted). Illiterate white for contaminated. I 
once heard an old rustic say that he was formerly tominated 
with sin, but had afterwards become sanctified. 

Tote (tot). The common negro word for carry. 

Tote the mail. A negro expression for run swiftly ; as, " When 1 
seed dat ghos', I farly toted de mail." This may be regarded 
as an indirect compliment to Uncle Sam, since his method 
of carrying the mail has become the synonym for swiftness. 

Tother (t-eSa). Negro and illiterate white for the other. 

Towser (tause). This word is used in South Mississippi to mean 
a hail fellow well met, and is always put before a proper name; 
as, Towser Jim, etc. 

Trawft (troft) . Negro and illiterate white for trough. 

Tromp (tromp). Common pronunciation of tramp (verb). Used 
also in Louisiana and Tennessee. 

Trussle (tresl). Largely used by all classes for trestle. 

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Tuck (tBk). Negro for took, 

Tuh (t-e). There is no sound of r in the negro pronunciation of 
to, and it should not be written ter, as it generally is by dia- 
lect writers. 

Turkle (terkl). Negro for turtle. Turkle-dove^ is the common 
name given by negroes to the turtle-dove. 

Turn (tern). This word is used by all classes to mean that por- 
tion of anything which constitutes a load for a man ; e.g. as 
much corn as a man can cany is a turn of corn. We speak 
likewise of a turn of wood or a turn of brick, or of almost 
anything that can be carried by a man. 

Turn-row (tern-r6). A word employed by farmers to mean the 
row in the middle of the field, where the dirt is begun to be 
thrown in a direction opposite to that in which it had been 
thrown before, so as to form a deep furrow or trench. 

Turrible (tmb-1). A pronunciation of terrible very common 
among the illiterate, and sometimes heard in the conversa- 
tion of the educated. 

Twel (twel). Negro for till. 

Twiste (t waist). Negro and illiterate white for twice. This vul- 
garism is, I think, very common in many parts of the United 


Uh (t?). The common negro form for the indefinite article a. 
This is generally written er by dialect writers, but no sound 
of r is ever apparent in the negro pronunciation. 

Umberel ("embarel). Negro and illiterate white for umbrella. 

'Umble (-emb-l). Used for humble by all classes. Not one man 
in a thousand, in Mississippi, pronounces humble correctly, 
but nearly all make the h silent. 

Underskirt. The common name for petticoat, corresponding to the 
under-coat of North Carolina. 

Under the weather. A phrase used by all classes to mean unwell, 
not in good health. One not in good health is naturally more 
under, or subject to, the weather than one perfectly well. 

Uv ('Bv). Negro and illiterate white pronunciation of of. 


V. A final V is generally pronounced as b by negroes ; as, lub 
(I'Bb) for love; gib (gib) for give; sabe (s^b) for save, etc. 
This, however, is not always the case, and it seems impos- 
sible to give any rule that is followed. 

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Vamoose (vam-fis). Bartlett gives vamose as colloquial in the 
United States, and as heard especially frequently in the 
Southwest. However, the common form of this word in 
Mississippi is vamoose, having exactly the same meaning as 
vamose, and being used by all classes. 

Varus (v^ras). Illiterate white for at variance with; used in the 
eastern central portion of the State. When two men do not 
agree, they are then said to be varus with each other. 

Venture. In a game of marbles this word means to forbid; as, 
"venture roundance"; "venture dubs"; etc. In Cincin- 
nati fen is used with this meaning, and may possibly be 
derived from venture. Venture itself is most probably 
{pre)vent you, the first syllable of prevent being left off. 

Verse. All classes of people sometimes use verse of poetry for 
stanza. This, however, is an error by no means confined to 

Very. The generally accepted meaning of very is exceedingly, to 
a great degree; but Mississippians frequently use it in 
exactly the opposite sense. In spoken discourse the mean- 
ing of ve7*y depends entirely upon the tone in which it is 
uttered. If the very is pronounced quickly without any 
special stress, it means to a small extent, to a very moderate 
degree. Thus, sometimes, when a thing is said to be very 
good, it is meant that the thing is moderately good, or not so 
good after all; e.g. if some one were asked whether a dog is a 
good one or not, and should reply, " Well, he is very good," 
it would in all probability be meant that the dog was not 
entirely good, but that he had some good qualities. 

When the necessity arises for using very in its emphasiz- 
ing or intensifying sense, Mississippians nearly always em- 
ploy some other term, a few of which I shall give : real, real 
down, mighty, quite, tarnation, awful, uncommon, monstrous, 
rattling ; all of which are used as adverbs when taking the 
place of very. 

Of course all of these expressions are not peculiar to 
Mississippi, but all of them are extensively used here. 


Wade into. One man is said to wade into another when He 
attacks him very vigorously with either fist or tongue. This 
phrase is used by all classes. 

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Want (wont). Negro and illiterate white for was not or were 

not y, 

Wa nut (wonat). Negro for walnut. Used also in Kentuckyv 
and New England. 

Wast (wost), Negro for wasp, 

Wat (wT?t). Sometimes used by negroes for what 

We all's. A possessive form of we all used by negroes and illit- 
erate whites. You alVs also is heard. " That house is we 
aWs " means that the house belongs to all of us. 

Weepons ( wipanz) . Negro and illiterate white for weapons, Used^ 
also in Kentucky. 

Well. Bartlett gives a lengthy note on this word, but I do not 
think he brings out a peculiar way in which it is used in 
Mississippi. I refer to that use of well which denotes that 
the one who says well is not satisfied with what has been 
spoken, but that he expects something more, or that granting 
what has been said, to l>e true, he desires to know what fol- 
lows as a logical inference — a meaning that may be made 
clear by the following dialogue : — 

Mr. Jones, — " The weather is bad, cotton is low, my wife 
is sick." 

Mr, Smith, " Well ? " Here Mr. Smith desires to know 
what Mr. Jones is going to do under the circumstances ; he 
wants to know what is going to follow ; he expects Mr. Jones 
to make some additional statement. 

Wen (wen). Sometimes used by illiterate whites and negroes for 

We una (wi anz). Illiterate white for we. You uns is also used 
for you, Bartlett says that these were developed during the 
late war. Their use extends over almost the whole Union. 
I suppose these were originally we ones and you ones, 

Whar (hwar). Is used by illiterate whites to mean both where 
and whether. They say : " I don't know whar he went or 
whar he has come back or not." 

What may be your entitlements? Frequently used by illiterate 
whites for " what is your name ?" 

Wheel-borrow (hwil-bora). Illiterate white and negro for wheel- 

Which from tother (hwitj frem tisSa). Illiterate white for mie 
from another. It is frequently said of twins that one can't 
tell " which from tother." 

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Whing (hw§i)). Used by illiterate white immigrants from North 
Carolina for wing. 

Who laid the rails. An expression used by negroes without any 
very definite meaning. It generally occurs in such construc- 
tions as the following: "Dat man kin speak fum who laid 
the rails " ; " He gimme a beatin' fum who laid the rails." 
As can be seen from these examples the expression generally 
i implies some degree of excellence or completeness. 

Whup (hwup). Negro for whip. Used also in Kentucky. 

Widow-woman. Negroes and illiterate whites almost never say 
simply widow, but in nearly every instance add either woman 
or lady to this word. Cultivated white people very frequently 
use this redundancy also. 

Wirsted (wirsted). Used by some illiterate whites for worsted, 
meaning a kind of cloth. 

Wouldn't be surprised if it didn't. This expression is frequently 
used by all classes in the place of wouldnH be surprised if it 
did; as in speaking of the weather, one says: "I wouldn't be 
surprised if it didn't rain," meaning that he thinks it is going 
to rain. 

Wrench (rentj). This word is us^d by illiterate whites of some 
sections to mean a wash or bath. As a verb it is used by all 
classes for rinse. In the latter sense it is used in the neigh- 
borhood of Philadelphia. The New England form is rense. 

Writ (rit). Used by negroes for wrote. This is a preservation of 
a form in the best usage as late as a century or two ago, and 
is derived from the old past plural writon. 

Wunst (wBnst). Negro and illiterate white for once. 

Wush (wuj). Negroes and illiterate whites use both this form 
and wusht for wish ; for wished they nearly always say wusht. 
Even educated people frequently say wisht for wish. 

Wusser (wbso). A double comparative form used by negroes for 
worser, which is itself, of course, formed from worse. Wuss 
is also used to mean the same thing, but sometimes it indi- 
cates a less degree than wusser; as, "John is wuss than Jim, 
but Bill is wusser still." The superlative form is wast 


Yaas (yses). The almost universal pronunciation of yes. Yep 

(yep) and yea (ye-a) are also very commonly used for yes. 
Yarb (yarb). 'Negro for herb. Bartlett gives yerft as the common 

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pronunciation of herb in the South, but yarb is certainly more 
frequently heard among the negroes of Mississippi. By tol- 
erably well-educated people herb is frequently pronounced as 
if the h were silent. 

Year (ye-a). The common pronunciation of ear among the un- 
educated j also used to some extent by educated people. 

Yearth (yer|)). Xegro and illiterate white for earth, Bartlett 
gives the word yeath as the form used in the South in gen- 
eral ; but, however that may be, yearth is certainly more 
common in Mississippi, although the other pronunciation is 
sometimes heard. 

Yistiddy (yist-idi). Negro and illiterate white for yesterday, 

Yo (y6) . Negro and illiterate white for ewe. Used also in Lou- 

Yore (y5-8). The almost universal pronunciation of your. 

You-ker-bet-you (yukab-etju). Negro for you may bet; for sure. 
I do not know the origin of the expression. 

Youm (yorn). Youm, oum, hisn, hern^ theirn, are all used by 
negroes and illiterate whites for the regular possessive forms 
yours, ours, etc. Youruy ourn, etc., seem to be contractions 
for your own, our own, etc. 

Yur (yB-a). A pronunciation of here sometimes used by negroes. 

Zackly (zsekli). Negro for exactly. 

Zune (zun). This is an onomatopoetic word much used by 
negroes and illiterate whites, and sometimes by educated 
people. A bee is said to go zuning through the air ; a fly 
is said to zune against the window-pane ; and, as rapid mo- 
tion is necessary to zuning, a man, horse, locomotive, or 
almost anything that goes along swiftly, is said to zune, 
even though that peculiar zuning sound is not made by the 
object in its motion. 

One negro asks another if the train ran fast, and the sec- 
ond answers, " She farly zuned." The word is thus some- 
times used in exactly the same sense as June, and I think is 
allied to it ; in fact, the two may be but different ways of 
representing the same sound. 

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All-overs (ol 6vaz). A term employed by all classes to mean a 
feeling of extreme annoyance or vexation ; as, " That man is 
so trifling it gives me the all-overs to look at him," I think 
that this expression is derived from some such sentence as 
this : " It annoys [or vexes] me all over [i.e. completely] to 
look at him." 

Aught (ot) . Very commonly used for naught 

Backside of next week. I heard an emigrant from England use 
this phrase in referring to the latter part of next week. 
33eatenest. This word is used in Mississippi with exactly the 
same sense as in Kentucky ; i.e. not to he beaten, not to be 

Been had. Very commonly used by negroes for have had. The 
expression ainH been had is probably more common than the 
affirmative form ; as, " I ain't been had a chill sence I wuz a 

Bit. To get bit is used also in Mississippi to mean to be cheated. 

Bit. In the sense of 12^ cents this is very commonly used in 
Mississippi. A quarter of a dollar is nearly always called 
two bits; and a half of a dollar quite often, four bits; and 
seventy-five cents, six bits. The last is probably the most 
common of all. 

Booger (buga). This word is used in Mississippi to mean a bug- 
bear, dried mucus in the nose, and a Iodise, In all three 
senses it is a child's word. It is the unfortunate destiny of 
a large number of the negro nurses to have lice in their 
heads, and these are called boogers by the children. The 
word is used also, by illiterate whites, as a verb, meaning to 
shy, to get slightly frightened, and is said of a horse. 

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Bud or Bub (bed, bisb). The word used in addressing an unknown 
small boy. 

Calm. This word is often pronounced kcem even by well-edu- 
cated people. 

Cinch (sintj) . " To get a cinch on " is very common in Missis- 
sippi for " To get a hold on," " To secure fast and tight." 

Crazy as a bed-bug. This expression is often used for extreme 
lunacy or eccentricity. When a man's actions cannot be ac- 
counted for on any rational basis, it is said that he is "as 
crazy as a bed-bug." I do not know the origin of the phrase. 
In Germany they say, " As impudent as a bed-bug." 

Cupola. Very commonly pronounced (kyiipalo) by the illiterate. 
Bartlett's note on this, however, is very full. 

Dare. In Mississippi dare and double dog dare are used by chil- 
dren in quarrelling. Dog dare and double Uack dog dare I 
have never heard. 

Doodle-bugs. This word is in very common use in Mississippi as\/ 
well as in Louisiana and Kentucky. 

Doozer (duza). The hole made in a top by the spindle of another 
top. In the game of " pecking tops," it is the ambition of 
every boy to put the biggest doozers in the tops of his fel- 

Dry grins. This is used in Mississippi, as in Kentucky, to mean 
the " smiles of one teased." 

Dubs (d^bz). In playing marbles, the player who knocks out 
two marbles at one time cries dubs, in order to have the right 
of keeping both marbles out of the ring. The Century 
Dictionary says that dubs is a contraction of doublets. 

Frog-sticker. This is used in Kentucky for "a blunt-pointec^^ 
Barlow pocket-knife " ; but in Mississippi it is used as a 
disparaging name for any kind of pocket-knife. If one boy 
desires to insinuate that another's knife is not a good one, 
he refers to it as a frog-sticker. 

Grease, greasy. In grease, used as a verb, the s is given the 
sound of z; in the adjective greasy the same rule holds 
good. In the noun grease, however, s has its proper sound. 

Gump (g-emp). The Century Dictionary gives this word in the 


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sense in which it occurs in Mississippi as well as in Mis- 
souri — an idiot, a senseless person. Bartlett gives gump- 
tious as meaning smart, clever, I have never heard the word 
gumptious used. In Mississippi gumpy is sometimes heard 
for gump. 

Reeled. This word is used in Mississippi with the same mean- 
^ ing as in Kentucky — well-prepared or " well-fixed." Well- 
heeled is the Massachusetts phrase. The word heel is also 
sometimes used in Mississippi to mean specially to arm- 
oneself; as, " When he Heard of the difficulty he went to heel 
. Hiding the switch (haidin switj). This game is played in Missis- 
sippi as well as in Kentucky. 

Hi-spy (hai-spai). In Mississippi this name is applied to both 
out-door and in-door hide-and-go-seek. I spy is also 

Horsier (hosla). In the game of ring-men, as it is played in 
Mississippi, it is the duty of the last man " killed " to put 
the marbles in the ring for the next game, and this person is 
called the horsier. This name is, I suppose, from hostler. 

Howdy (hau(Jy). This word is extensively used by the illiterate 
classes of Mississippi as a regular verb ; as, " We just met 
and howdied, and then passed on." 

Hurricane. This word is pronounced by negroes and illiterate 
whites both (hseriken) and (heriken). 

If nothing happens (ef n-e^n ha5pn3) . This phrase is put by the 
negro after almost every expression of any future intention ; 
as, "I'll git froo plowin', Saddy, ef nothin' happens." Of 
course the meaning is " if nothing happens to prevent." 

Janders (dSsendaz). A form of the word jaundice. The Century 
Dictionary gives jaunders as a dialectical form. This also 
is heard in Mississippi. 

Jimmy-jawed (d3imid3od). This expression is very common, and 
means having the lower jaw protruding beyond the upper. 

King's ex. or King's excuse. Used in Mississippi as in Missouri 
for the purpose of stopping children's games — as tag or 

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Knee high to a duck. This expression, used in Kentucky for ^ 
"very short," is extremely common in Mississippi; but 
the similar expressions given by Bartlett are very rarely 

Knucks (n-eks). A game of marbles in which the defeated player 
must allow the other players to have one " plump " apiece at 
his knuckles from a distance of eight or ten feet. The word 
knucks is also cried out in a game of marbles in order to 
make the player who is shooting, keep his hand on the 

Leg or Lag (leg or Iseg). The word is pronounced in both ways 
indicated, and is used as an intransitive verb. It belongs tOL 
the vernacular of marble-players. In legging or lagging each 
player endeavors to so roll a marble as to make it stop on a 
horizontal line drawn about five or six feet from the players. 
This is the method generally adopted of determining who 
shall have the " first go " — the player whose " taw " stops 
nearest the line being entitled to that privilege. 

The word may be, and probably is, connected with the 
verb to lag, meaning to fall behind, as the order in which the 
players shall shoot is determined by the distance that they 
fall behind one another. 

Lessen (lesn). A word used by negroes and illiterate whites for 
unless. It may have originated from analogy with seppen 
for except, offen for off, outen for ovi. 

Long sight. This expression always occurs in the phrase " by a 
long sight," which means " by a great deal " ; as, " He is not 
a good man by a long sight." 

Make-up. This in Mississippi, as in Kentucky, means planned ot\/ 
prepared beforehand, and occurs very frequently with the 
word job; as, "That was a made-up job"; i.e. something 
that had been thought about and planned before. 

Mostest (mostes). A double superlative form in very common 
use by the negroes. Analogous words are goodest, bestest, 
worstest, in none of which is the final t sounded. 

Much up. This expression is used by illiterate whites to mean to 
pet, to make much of. The Century Dictionary gives much 
used in this sense without the adverb, and quotes Halliwell 
as saying that much is provincial in England and the United 

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States. I have never heard mitch used in this sense unless 
followed by up. 

Mud-dauber (m-ed-doba). A species of wasp. The Century Dic- 
tionary gives the word, but not the pronunciation indicated. 
It is somewhat peculiar that Mississippians should pro- 
nounce au as short o in this word, as they nearly always 
pronounce short o itself as au. 

Muley cow (myuli). The word is used with the same meaning 
noted in the Century Dictionary and Bartlett. The pronun- 
ciation in Mississippi is as indicated. 

Naked (nekid). In Mississippi, as in Kansas City, this word is 

very generally pronounced (nekid). 
Nape (naep). In Mississippi, as in Kansas City, very generally 

pronounced (naep). 

Organ. This word is used by the illiterate whites of Mississippi 
as a regular verb, meaning to play on the organ. 

Plug (pl-Bg) . The Century Dictionary says that plug is used to refer 
to anything old or worn out so as to have become undesir- 
able or unsalable. In this sense of valueless or ordinary, I 
have never heard the word in Mississippi applied to any- 
thing else than to a horse of ordinary breed. However, in 
this use it is very common both as a noun and as an adjec- 

Psalm (ssem). This pronunciation is very common in Missis- 
sippi, even among educated people. 

Purgatory. A name given to a game of marbles, which is played 
by rolling a marble in a series of holes, the last one in the 
series being called purgatory, or purg. 

Raise sand. This expression is very common, meaning to create 
a disturbance, to raise a row. The Century Dictionary does 
not give to raise sand, but mentions the kindred expressions, 
to raise the dust and to raise the land. Both of these mean 
the same thing as to raise sand; but neither of them is used 
very extensively in Mississippi ; in fact, I have never heard 
them at all. 

Reesins (riznz). The common pronunciation of raisins by negroes 
and illiterate whites. 

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Roundance. A term used in playing marbles. By crying out 
roundance the player obtains the right to move around to a 
more favorable position for shooting. I think that the 
word is merely an abstract noun formed from the adjective 

Scrofttlo (skrofyulS). Scrofula is very frequently so called by 
the uneducated. 

Shoot and venture. A phrase used in playing marbles. One 
player tells another " to shoot and venture," when the second 
must shoot without making any change either in the posi- 
tion of his taw or of his opponent's ; he is thus deprived of 
the rights of roundance, cleai'aftce, etc. 

Sight unseen. This is a very common expression, and is always 
used in connection with buying or swapping. Two boys 
agree to trade knives sight uvseen, meaning without either 
having seen the knife of the other. 

Sis (sis). The word used in addressing an unknown small 

Skoot (skiit). This word is used by all classes as a semi-slang 
expression, and means to move away rapidly, to leave in a 
hurry. It may possibly be akin to sheet. 

Slacked (slsekt). All classes use this pronunciation of slaked. 

Smack-dab (smsek-daeb). A term used by all classes, but more 
especially by the uneducated, to mean exactly, precisely ; as, 
" I hit him smack-dab in the face." Smack is sometimes 

' used with the same meaning as the Century Dictionary 

Spit and image (spit sen imed3). A negro expression for an exact 
likeness ; as, " He is the spit and image of his father." The 
expression sometimes appears as the spit imajge. The Cen- 
tury Dictionary gives spit as equivalent to image, but says 
nothing of the derivation of spit. It seems to me that spit is 
very probably derived from spirit, since the negro pronuncia- 
tion of r is very indistinct ; so the phrase must have origi- 
nally been spirit and imajge. 

Split the difference. This is a phrase in very common use by all 
classes, and has reference to buying and selling. If a 
buyer wishes to pay a certain amount for an article and the 
seller asks more, they are said to split the difference when 
the difference between the two prices- is divided by two. 

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Squench (skwentj). A negro word for quench. The Century 
Dictionary says that here 8 is an intensive prefix. The word 
is sometimes pronounced (skwintj), which form is also used 
by negroes for squint 

Steeple (stip-1). Staple, the bent wire for holding in place the 
barbed wire on fences, is so pronounced by the illiterate. 

Stinch (stintj). Negro for stint 

Stinger (stidSa). The common negro and illiterate white pronun- 
ciation of stingy. 

Stud'in' yu (st-edin' ya). A very common negro phrase for thiytk- 
ing about you; as, "G'way fum hya, chile; I ain't stud'in' 
yu." The expression is of course a corruption of studying 

Suke (suk). The commonly used word for calling cows. The 
word cow is sometimes added to it, so as to make sukow 
(sukau), the u being long drawn out in the pronunciation. 

Summage (s'Braed3). Very often used by negroes for summon. 

Sutenly (s-etnli). Negro for certainly. 

Surup (s-erap). Syrup is commonly so pronounced bya,ll classes. 

Taws (to3). The place from which the players shoot in the 
game of marbles called ring-men. 

Tit (tit). The almost universal pronunciation of tea^ in Missis- 
sippi. Webster says that this is a common pronunciation, 
and that teat is sometimes written tit. In Mississippi, the 
diminutive tittie (titi) is more frequently heard than tit 

Together (tagse^a). Illiterate -whites very frequently so pro- 
nounce together. In a number of exercises handed to me by 
my freshman English class, I have seen the word spelled 

Varmint (vaamint). This word is a corruption of vermin, and is 
used by negroes and illiterate whites to mean a predatory 
beast of any kind. The Century Dictionary gives the word 
as dialectical. 

Wax (wseks). A word used to some extent by all classes to 
mean to beat, to thresh. The Century Dictionary gives the 
word with this meaning under its remarks on the noun wax, 
meaning a rage or passion. 

Wear out (wseaaut). A word used by all classes as synonymous 

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with whip thoroughly. The Century Dictionary gives as a 
meaning of to wear out, " to waste or consume the strength 
of," but it does not call attention to this specific way of 
consuming the strength of any one. 
Whack up (hwsek -ep). An expression employed by all classes, 
probably as semi-slang, to mean to divide, to share. 

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